The violent politics of nationalism - Identity and legitimacy in Palestine

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The Violent Politics of Nationalism

Identity and Legitimacy in Palestine, Kosovo and Québec

Thèse

Felix Kuntzsch

Doctorat en science politique Philosophiae doctor (Ph.D.)

Québec, Canada

© Felix Kuntzsch, 2014

Résumé Dans cette thèse, je montre que la violence est un moyen utilisé par certains militants nationalistes pour persuader le public, à l‘intérieur et à l‘extérieur de la nation, de l‘inévitabilité de leur projet politique. Ce que je nomme la politique violente du nationalisme est essentiellement une lutte pour la légitimité. En défiant les autorités, les militants recourent à une stratégie de provocation. En effet, la violence politique est susceptible de provoquer une répression qui justifie leurs affirmations et contribue à priver l‘État de sa légitimité. Cependant, une telle légitimation est fondée sur une transformation de l‘identité collective, c‘est-àdire de la perception que la population concernée a d‘elle-même. La nation, pour justifier les militants, doit paraître combative et intransigeante. L‘escalade de violence a donc une dimension productive en ce qu‘elle façonne la nation. Ce que je conceptualise comme le mécanisme de l‘escalade provoquée constitue la pierre angulaire d‘un double processus, celui de légitimation politique et de transformation identitaire. Les militants ressortent d‘un tel processus en représentants légitimes de la nation, ce qui les aide ensuite à s‘assurer du soutien de tierces parties. Afin d‘étayer cette idée, je propose un cadre théorique résumant mon approche à la fois stratégique et constructiviste. Ce cadre est ensuite appliqué dans trois études de cas : les conflits nationalistes en Palestine, au Kosovo et au Québec. Je retrace l‘évolution de chacun de ces mouvements nationalistes et le rôle qu‘y ont joué les principaux groupes armés impliqués, soit le Fatah/OLP, l‘UÇK et le FLQ. J‘identifie dans chacun la présence du processus que mon cadre théorique met en évidence et j‘analyse, à partir des récits historiques, l‘impact que le recours à la violence a eu sur ces projets nationalistes, particulièrement en ce qui concerne la transformation identitaire et la légitimité des militants. Je constate la valeur heuristique de mon approche pour ces cas disparates et, à travers eux, je perçois une co-variation entre l‘intensité de la violence et ses effets transformateurs sur l‘identité, ainsi que la légitimité acquise par les militants. En outre, dans ces trois cas, l‘action militante a contribué à rapprocher l‘identité politique des frontières politiques.

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Abstract In this thesis, I argue that violence is a means used by militant nationalists to persuade their audiences both within and without the nation of the inexorable nature of their nationalist project. What I call the violent politics of nationalism is essentially a struggle for legitimacy. The militants‘ armed strategy, I assert, is one of provocation. Political violence is likely to provoke state repression. Where it does so, it vindicates nationalist claims and helps to wrest political legitimacy from the state. Yet, such legitimation is based on a transformation of collective identity, that is, people‘s self-perception. The nation, in order to legitimize the militants, has to take a combative and uncompromising look. The intentional escalation of violence thus has a productive effect in that it determines what the people, as a nation, are. The mechanism of provoked escalation constitutes the building block of what I conceptualize as the combined process of political legitimation and identity transformation. When this dynamic is set in motion, militants emerge as the legitimate representatives of their nation which, in turn, helps them to secure the support of third parties. In order to substantiate my argument, I present a theoretical framework summarizing my approach, which I call strategic constructivist. The framework is then applied to a set of three case studies, namely, the nationalist conflicts in Palestine, Kosovo and Québec. I focus on the evolution of the respective nationalist movements and the role played in them by the relevant armed groups, that is, Fatah/PLO, the KLA, and the FLQ. Across these widely disparate cases, I trace the process that my framework highlights. The three historical narratives analyze the impact the use of violence had on the different nationalist projects in terms of identity transformation and the legitimation of militants at home and abroad. I find that my framework offers heuristic purchase in all three cases and that across them the intensity of violence co-varies with its identity-shaping effect and the level of legitimacy the militants achieved. Also, in all three cases militant action contributed to making political identities and political boundaries converge.

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Contents RÉSUMÉ ..................................................................................................................... III ABSTRACT ................................................................................................................. V TABLES & FIGURES ................................................................................................. XI ABBREVIATIONS..................................................................................................... XIII REMERCIEMENTS/ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ........................................................ XVII INTRODUCTION .......................................................................................................... 1

PART ONE: THE VIOLENT POLITICS OF NATIONALISM INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 23 CHAPTER ONE: LEGITIMACY & NATIONALISM INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 33 I) THE CONCEPT OF LEGITIMACY........................................................................................................ 35 1) LEGITIMATION OF POWER & THE POWER OF LEGITIMACY .................................................... 36 2) A RULE-BASED APPROACH TO LEGITIMACY .............................................................................. 39 II) NATIONALISM & THE STRUGGLE FOR LEGITIMACY .............................................................. 42 1) POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY: FROM NATION TO NATIONALISM .................................................. 43 2) NATIONALISM & SELF-DETERMINATION ..................................................................................... 50

SUMMARY................................................................................................................. 61 CHAPTER TWO: THE NATION – The Imagined Political Community as Collective Ethnic Identity INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 67

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I) THE ETHNIC NATION: A MATTER OF BELIEF ............................................................................... 69 II) THE NATION AS COLLECTIVE ETHNIC IDENTITY? ................................................................... 73 III) THE ETHNIC NATION AS A PROCESS ............................................................................................ 75 IV) THE ACTION-INTO-REPRESENTATION MODEL ......................................................................... 79

SUMMARY ................................................................................................................. 81 CHAPTER THREE: THE STRATEGY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE INTRODUCTION ........................................................................................................ 85 I) THE STRATEGY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE: A MODEL .............................................................. 87 II) THE STRATEGIC ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE ........................................................... 94 III) TERRORISM AS POLITICAL VIOLENCE ....................................................................................... 97 1) TERROISM AS PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE ................................................................................. 98 2) A RATIONALIST TAKE ...................................................................................................................... 102 IV) POLITICAL VIOLENCE & NATIONALIST CONFLICT .............................................................. 105 1) TERRORISM IN NATIONALIST OR ETHNIC CONFLICTS ........................................................... 106 2) FORMATIVE VIOLENCE: PROVOKING REPRESSION ................................................................. 107

SUMMARY ............................................................................................................... 110 CONCLUSION: A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK .................................................. 113

PART TWO: PALESTINE, KOSOVO AND QUÉBEC INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 115 CHAPTER FOUR: Palestinian Nationalism and Political Violence INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 133 I) FROM THE EMPIRE TO PALESTINE ................................................................................................ 139 1) THE RISE OF ARAB NATIONALISM ............................................................................................... 140 2) THE AFTERMATH OF THE NAKBA ................................................................................................ 161 II) FATAH ..................................................................................................................................................... 177 1) FATAH, THE ANM AND THE PLO ................................................................................................... 178

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2) FATAH’S IDEOLOGY & GOALS....................................................................................................... 184 3) FATAH’S ARMED STRUGGLE ......................................................................................................... 195 III) A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE .............................................................................................................. 203 1) FIRST RAIDS INTO ISRAEL .............................................................................................................. 204 2) THE 1967 WAR & ARAFAT’S POPULAR WAR OF LIBERATION................................................ 208 3) THE BATTLE OF KARAMEH 1968 ................................................................................................... 213 4) BLACK SEPTEMBER & THE JORDANIAN CIVIL WAR ............................................................... 217 5) THE LEBANESE CIVIL WAR ............................................................................................................ 225 6) TOWARD THE INTIFADA ................................................................................................................. 237 IV) A STRUGGLE FOR IDENTITY & LEGITIMACY .......................................................................... 249 1) PALESTINIANS: TRANSFORMING POLITICAL IDENTITY ......................................................... 250 2) LEGITIMIZING THE PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE ABROAD ......................................................... 259

SUMMARY............................................................................................................... 264 CHAPTER FIVE: Albanians from Kosovo into Kosovo Albanians INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 271 I) ALBANIAN NATIONALISM & THE KOSOVO ................................................................................. 277 1) UNDER THE EMPIRE ......................................................................................................................... 278 2) ALBANIA WITHOUT KOSOVO ........................................................................................................ 288 3) KOSOVO’S ALBANIANS AFTER WORLD WAR II ........................................................................ 299 4) ALBANIAN NATIONALISM IN KOSOVO ....................................................................................... 307 5) THE RUGOVA YEARS: PEACEFUL RESISTANCE ........................................................................ 313 II) THE KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY ................................................................................................ 320 1) THE ORIGINS OF THE KLA .............................................................................................................. 321 2) KLA’S IDEOLOGY & GREATER ALBANIA .................................................................................... 328 3) KLA’S MILITARY & POLITICAL STRATEGY ................................................................................ 333 III) 1997-1999: EPISODES OF ESCALATION ........................................................................................ 337 1) THE KLA’S COMING OUT ................................................................................................................ 341 2) PROVOKING CASUALTIES .............................................................................................................. 343 3) AFTER SUMMER COMES NATO’S FALL ....................................................................................... 349 IV) IDENTITY, LEGITIMACY AND THE KLA’S STRUGGLE .......................................................... 351 1) BETWEEN ALBANIAN-NESS AND KOSOVAR-NESS................................................................... 354 2) THE KLA & THE INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY ...................................................................... 364

SUMMARY............................................................................................................... 369 CHAPTER SIX: The FLQ and the Ascent of Québécois Nationalism INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................... 375 I) THE HISTORY OF NATIONALISM IN QUÉBEC ............................................................................. 381

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1) THE POLITICIZATION OF ETHNOCULTURALISM ....................................................................... 388 2) THE QUIET REVOLUTION ................................................................................................................ 399 3) QUÉBÉCOIS NATIONALISM............................................................................................................. 404 II) THE FLQ ................................................................................................................................................. 412 1) THE BIRTH OF THE FLQ ................................................................................................................... 414 2) THE FLQ’S POLITICAL IDEOLOGY ................................................................................................. 417 3) WHAT ROLE TO POLITICAL VIOLENCE? ...................................................................................... 428 III) THE PRAXIS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE ...................................................................................... 435 1) THE FLQ’S ARMED STRUGGLE: ORGANIZATION & ACTION .................................................. 437 2) THE OCTOBER CRISIS 1970 .............................................................................................................. 446 IV) LEGITIMACY, IDENTITY & THE FLQ ........................................................................................... 459 1) QUÉBÉCOIS IDENTITY: TRANSFORMED BY OCTOBRE? ........................................................... 460 2) STRUGGLE FOR LEGITIMACY: THE SEPARATIST CHALLENGE ............................................. 467

SUMMARY ............................................................................................................... 473 CONCLUSION .......................................................................................................... 475 REFERENCES ......................................................................................................... 487

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Tables & Figures Table 1: Process of Delegitimation and Legitimation ........................................................................................ 34 Table 2: Logic of Legitimacy and Logic of Tyranny ........................................................................................... 89 Table 1: Case Studies Overview Results ........................................................................................................ 483 Figure 1: Belief-into-Action and Action-into-Representation Models ................................................................. 68 Figure 2: Identity and the Process of Legitimation by Violent Means .............................................................. 118

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Abbreviations AI

Amnesty International

AL

Alliance Laurentienne

ALQ

Armée de libération du Québec

ANM

Arab Nationalist Movement

ASIQ

Action socialiste pour l‟indépendance du Québec

BBC

British Broadcasting Corporation

BK

National Front (Balli Kombëtar)

BNAA

British North America Act

DFLP

Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine

FLN

Front de libération nationale

FLQ

Front de libération du Québec

HAC

Higher Arab Committee

ICTY

International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia

IDF

Israel Defense Forces

KLA

Kosovo Liberation Army (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës)

LCY

League of Communists of Yugoslavia

LDK

Democratic League of Kosovo (Lidhja Demokratike e Kosovës)

LKÇK

National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo (Lëvizja Kombëtare për Çlirimin e Kosovës)

LNM

Lebanese National Movement

LPK

Popular Movement of Kosovo (Lidhja Popullore e Kosovës)

LPRK

Popular Movement for the Republic of Kosovo (Lëvizja Popullore për Republikën e Kosovës)

LRBSh

Revolutionary Movement for Albanian Unification (Lëvizjen Revolucionare për Bashkimin e Shqiptarëve)

LRShJ

Movement for an Albanian Republic in Yugoslavia (Lëvizja për Republikën Shqipëtare në Jugosllavi)

MCA

Muslim-Christian Association

MRQ

Mouvement révolutionnaire du Québec

MSA

Mouvement souveraineté-association

NATO

North Atlantic Treaty Organization

NLA

National Liberation Army (Ushtria Çlirimtare Kombëtare)

OSCE

Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe

OTs

Occupied Territories

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PFLP

Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine

PLA

Palestine Liberation Army

PLO

Palestine Liberation Organization

PLQ

Parti libéral du Québec

PNC

Palestinian National Council

PNF

Palestinian National Front

PQ

Parti Québécois

PRQ

Parti républicain du Québec

RCMP

Royal Canadian Mounted Police

RIN

Rassemblement pour l‟indépendance nationale

RN

Ralliement national

UAC

United Arab Command

UDBa

Department of State Security (Uprava državne bezbednosti)

UN

United Nations

UNC

United National Command

UNGA

United Nations General Assembly

UNRWA

United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

UNSC

United Nations Security Council

UQAM

Université du Québec à Montréal

US

United States of America

WMA

War Measures Act

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À mes parents, auxquels je dois beaucoup, sinon tout.

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“Die Menschen machen ihre eigene Geschichte, aber sie machen sie nicht aus freien Stücken, nicht unter selbstgewählten, sondern unter unmittelbar vorgefundenen, gegebenen und überlieferten Umständen” (Marx [1885] 1971: 15).1 “Political power is the central issue in insurgencies and counterinsurgencies; each side aims to get the people to accept its governance or authority as legitimate” (US Army 2006: 1). “Pragmatically, nationalism is unavoidable in contemporary world politics. … [It] is a contemporary inevitability which should be minimized. It is not a virtue to be promoted” (Vincent 2002: 86, 109).

―Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.‖ 1

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Remerciements/Acknowledgements Ce travail n‘aurait jamais abouti sans l‘aide et le soutien de nombreuses personnes. Je remercie Jean-Pierre Derriennic pour m‘avoir fait comprendre que ce qu‘on nomme la science politique demande avant tout une connaissance approfondie des faits et qu‘aucune théorie, aussi sophistiquée soit-elle, ne peut remplacer le travail ardu de l‘historien. Tout au long du chemin, j‘ai pu profiter des discussions enrichissantes, des commentaires et des suggestions de beaucoup de personnes que je ne saurais toutes nommer ici. Il est toutefois nécessaire de le faire pour quelques-unes d‘entre elles. Je dois particulièrement remercier les Albanais qui ont volontairement partagé avec moi leurs histoires et leurs idées à Francfort et pendant mes séjours au Kosovo et en Suisse. Shkelzen Gashi a été une source extraordinaire d‘informations et d‘inspiration. Ayant vécu en Égypte, j‘ai eu la chance de pouvoir profiter des infrastructures de l‘American University in Cairo (AUC) pour ma recherche sur les Palestiniens et d‘y présenter mes idées. Au Québec, j‘ai pu partager avec bonheur non seulement mes idées, mais aussi ma vie quotidienne avec Nicolas Ringuette. Dominique Lepage m‘a accompagné dès le début dans ce parcours du combattant. Je lui souhaite que son projet aboutisse. Je remercie également Tome Sandevski et Marcel Fallu qui m‘ont aidé à rendre certaines de mes idées plus claires et Uli Weber qui à pris soin de relire l‘ensemble du texte. Finalement, c‘est à Saskja que je dois le plus, elle le sait et tous ceux qui nous connaissent le savent aussi.

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INTRODUCTION Nationalist political violence, whenever it erupts, attracts considerable attention. More than its material impact, it is the specter of secessionism underpinning all nationalist conflicts that haunts observers. With sovereignty at stake, authorities are led to stark responses while the international community faces a threat to peace and security. Although it is obvious that escalating violence dramatizes any conflict, the question remains: Why do nationalist militants resort to violence against the state in the first place? All things considered, even the weakest of states can be expected to command sufficient means to fend off or at least contain domestic challenges. As a rule, armed non-state actors cannot overcome the state by military means alone. Waging a conventional war is perilous.2 How to make sense of nationalist violence then? A welter of explanation has been put forth for why so-called ethnic conflicts escalate. Only few of these consider nationalist conflicts a subgroup with specific features. Also, one hardly finds approaches that account for the fact that violence, rather than being a mass phenomenon, is only the work of a few. And, to my knowledge, one has yet to address the nexus of nationalism and violence with a view on the interaction between armed militants and their constituency – those nominally members of the nation, nationality, or national minority in whose name the former claim to fight.3 Therefore, the present work looks at the political rationale of those resorting to violence and endeavors to analyze the impact of their deeds. Violence, I argue, is a crucial aspect of the politics of nationalism.4 Understanding its political instrumentality in nationalist conflicts not only helps us to understand why militants resort to it but offers new perspectives on a far more intricate issue: the social construction of nations without states. The use of armed force by non-state actors against the state can be beneficial in two ways. Violent pressure may prompt policy shifts in governments which tilt the balance of power in the militants‘ favor, or militants can garner popular support

An early example is George Washington‘s Continental Line in the American war of independence. Washington, beholden to ideals of conventional warfare and loathing irregulars, rushed to emulate a standing army – with disastrous results (Polk 2007: xxv). 2

Unfortunately the word nation has come to be used interchangeably with state rendering a differentiated usage awkward. However, alternatives, like the nineteenth century concept of nationality, initially used to refer to stateless nations or ethnonational movements came to be used as equivalent of citizenship. Also, the conceptual differentiation between nation and nationality in Eastern Europe has made the latter a politicized term (nations enjoyed greater political rights). The more recent use of ―national minority‖ has not been of much help either since it only makes sense where the groups in questions belong to another state, at least nominally. Otherwise, it is obvious that nations without states never constitute a minority in the lands they reclaim. I thus stick to the concept of nation distinguishing it from the state. 3

Violence here is understood as physical, not structural as in cases of legal discrimination or economic disadvantages (see Galtung 1969). 4

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when the state reacts with indiscriminate repression to the challenge they pose. As I intend to show, the latter process is of particular relevance in nationalist conflicts. At the heart of my argument is the claim that nationalist conflicts are struggles over political legitimacy. Legitimacy, as I will show, is a major political resource in struggles opposing a nationalist movement to the state.5 This is because in nationalist conflict, more than in other types of conflict, legitimacy is a function of collective identity and its political representation. Successfully asserting nationhood against the state secures a position of power for those legitimately representing it. Violence is instrumental in that regard. For all the material destruction it causes, violence is productive as it shapes and defines the political identity of the nation in whose name the state is challenged. These assertions require some explanation. It is an often-heard contention that violence does something with ethnic or ethnonational groups, that it leaves its imprint on them and changes the very dynamic of conflict. Violence, it is said, alienates people from the state, antagonizes populations, hardens boundaries separating them, and, more generally, polarizes the political and social space. Yet, what precisely this implies for the empirical study of nationalist conflict has remained in the dark. Current scholarship tends to neglect this aspect for two reasons: First, analytical primordialism in the study of nations and ethnic groups is almost hegemonic. Only scant regard is paid to the phenomenon of endogeneity, that is, to the fact that group-ness originates from within social processes it itself is part of. Second, there is a fixation on violence as an outcome of conflict rather than as a political instrument in conflicts. In fact, the widely-shared intuition that the escalation of nationalist conflicts has its roots in the collective aspiration of any nation to gain freedom and achieve statehood gets the story backwards. It misreads an effect for its cause. What if the nationalist fervor one observes is a consequence of escalating violence and not its explanation? What if the perception that the political status quo is detrimental to the nation‘s interest is an effect of conflict rather than its source? In contrast to the dominant perspective, I assert that the very idea of the nation, that is, collective identity, is a product of nationalist struggles. The ways the nation is imagined are shaped by the quest to assert its existence and the reality of strife.6 While it is correct that the categories that constitute ethnic and ethnonational groups seem to be of old and are slow to change, they are not impervious to transformation and Note that ―national movement‖ stands for the post hoc intellectual reconstruction of the political development which ushered in contemporary nationalism. It is usually presented as a teleological process in which a presumed ideological coherence helps to claim the single-mindedness of a sociologically highly divergent bunch of actors who, more often than not, were at cross-purposes. 5

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This runs counter to nationalist and analytical primordialist points of view, for in their eyes the existence of ethnic or ethnonational groups is an ontological fact and thus constitutive of their epistemology. I ask the reader, for the purpose of reading this study, to acknowledge the malleability of such groups and make it the object of analysis.

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prove surprisingly flexible when politicized.7 If we assume that how the political community is imagined has a direct bearing on questions of political legitimacy, the attempt to influence, if not control, the shape and texture of collective identity should be central to the political game. Before spelling out my theoretical argument in greater detail and to better situate my ideas, a brief review of the phenomena of nationalist conflict and ethnic violence is in order. A nationalist conflict, by definition, opposes a nationalist movement to a sovereign state. The nationalism of nations without state rejects representation by the states in which they find themselves. Stress is laid on the fact that in disregard of nationalist doctrine, the political and ethnic boundaries do not match. The nation, in short, is considered to be under alien rule. Projecting a separate state, such nationalisms question the state‘s sovereignty and challenge its territorial integrity. So defined, the notion of nationalist conflict is more specific than the concept of ethnic conflict. Both share an ethnic understanding of the political community. In ethnic conflicts, however, the state remains the addressee of claims for majority rule or minority rights. This, in turn, helps to sustain its legitimacy. In nationalist conflicts, by contrast, the state‘s very legitimacy is contested. Thus, the latter is a subset of the former. Nationalist conflicts owe their distinct characteristic to the intellectual and political history of the concept of the nation. Nations and nationalism are constitutive of political modernity. The idea of the nation came to prominence in the French and American revolutions. An offshoot of the eighteenth century idea of popular sovereignty, its erstwhile legalist meaning was ethnicized in the following century. Initially conceived in support of the state, the nation now turned against it and, in the form of nationalism, became a subversive force. At the dawn of the twentieth century, the principle of national self-determination gained wide currency. Prominently promoted by the unlikely duo of US President Wilson and V.I. Lenin, the idea that each nation has a right to a state of its own was variously thought to bring international peace or revolutionary change. Its most immediate effect was the breakup of the Eurasian empires in the wake of the First World War. But its echoes were still to be heard on the eve of the Second World War when Nazi Germany claimed foreign lands in the name of German minorities‘ right to self-determination. Later, after 1945, self-determination inspired the global movement of decolonization, providing it with a normative backing. When the Cold War came to an end, a window of opportunity opened for the numerous nationalisms, large and small, which the opposing blocks had nurtured,

Nation and nationalism are understood here in ethnocultural terms. Although some argue that we should differentiate between ethnic and civic nationalism – a view that historically, as I show, is not without merits – I concur with Connor (1994) that the latter should better be called patriotism. Ethnocultural is used interchangeably with ethnic in order to emphasize the fact that the idea of shared descent which is at the heart of ethnicity is a cultural artifact and a matter of belief. 7

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yet contained for several decades. They now made their voices heard. In Eastern Europe and the Caucasus, in particular, nationalism seemed to re-emerge with a vengeance. ―In our century,‖ writes Suny, talk of nationality ―has become the hegemonic political discourse of sovereignty and the unavoidable language of those who want to play the game of statehood‖ (1993: 14). For whatever has been said about the coming of a postnational age, the legitimacy of contemporary political orders remains bound to the concept of the nation. The idea of the nation-state, that is, the normative template projecting a single state for each nation, continues to dominate our thinking. And across regime types the need for an identity of ruler and ruled is still imperative. But how to define the nation? Short of having recourse to the state, defining the nation in whose name political legitimacy is claimed is difficult business. No doubt, one can turn to allegedly definitive listings of the world‘s nations without states and look up the various definitions on offer. However, in the absence of a state to define the nation and enforce membership rules, the presence of externally bounded and internally homogenous sociopolitical entities, objectively identifiable as nations, is only apparent. In fact, the nation, rather than constituting a collective, autonomous being, has to be appealed to. It has constantly to be reaffirmed, if not brought into being altogether. And this is not for nothing. As the basis for claims to self-determination, political autonomy, sovereignty, and independence, the nation has become a normative resource for political struggles and a focal point of collective action worldwide. The appeals directed at the nation, in speech and action, have not been without consequences. Even though it is only an ―imagined community‖, as Anderson (1991) famously put it, the idea of the nation now conjures powerful forces. This is because the ethnocultural foundations of the nation evoke the idea of a ―superfamily‖. The individual is addressed as a moral agent and obliged to show solidarity with unknown people presented to her as compatriots. So great is its evocative power that the nation has been said ―to effectively command men‘s loyalty‖ and to override demands of ―lesser communities within it and those that cut across it or potentially enfold it within a still greater society‖ (see Emerson 1960: 95-6, quoted in Geertz 1963: 107). The nation, in short, has become both the terminal political community and the yardstick for political legitimacy. It is at once a mobilizational device and a normative justification of rule. It should not come as a surprise then that successful appeals to the nation provide any opposition with tremendous political leverage. Being at the helm of a nationalist movement is a position of power, notwithstanding the forces one fields. Yet, militant nationalists have to produce facts that substantiate their claim that they actually represent the nation. Violence here is crucial. But what do we know about violence in ethnic conflicts?

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Quite a few explanations have been put forward for why ethnic, or for that matter nationalist, violence occurs. Initially, violence was explained by collective grievances that are not adequately addressed by the state and do not find expression in the institutional channels available (Gurr 2000; Gurr 1993). Its source was located in status differentials that group psychology renders explosive (Horowitz 1985). Cultural legacies, embodied in so-called myth-symbol complexes and seen as constitutive of ethnic groups, were also found to be its cause (Kaufman 2006; Kaufman 2001; Smith 1986). Meanwhile, elite competition within groups (Saideman 1998; Gagnon 1994/95), violent opportunism and vigiliatism of ethnic entrepreneurs (Mueller 2000; Laitin 1995) as well as collective emotions (Petersen 2002) and propaganda (Oberschall 2000; Snyder and Ballentine 1996) were all identified as underlying mechanisms. Still others stressed structural dynamics instead. Intrastate security dilemmas and commitment problems in intergroup relations during periods of institutional transformation were advanced to explain escalation (Fearon 1998; Posen 1993). Moreover, the unfavorable geographic distribution of minority populations (van Evera 1994) or the presence of conditions propitious for an insurgency, like inaccessible terrain and weak government (Fearon and Laitin 2003), were found to increase the likelihood of violence. All this, in turn, has led to a greater interest in the wider conditions under which the escalation of violence takes places, often by combining earlier approaches. Duffy Toft (2003) emphasizes struggles for territory and the effects of demographic distribution while Hale (2004), among others, has pinpointed various features of ethnofederal arrangements to explain secessionist violence. Saideman and Ayres (2008) address the convoluted politics of irredentism, elaborating on the international dimension of ethnic conflict. The circumstances of democratization have been identified as crucial for whether or not nationalism becomes aggressive (Snyder 2000) and Chua (2003) blames economic liberalization for the outbreak of ethnic violence in various places around the world. Zürcher (2007) adopts an even broader perspective looking at the wide-ranging implications of institutional transformation to explain why conflicts in the former Soviet Union escalated into violence.8 The trouble with many contributions to the debate in this still evolving field of research is their undue focus on intergroup relations which are conceptualized as inherently conflict-prone. All ethnic dyads are likely candidates for violence, and when competing claims to nationhood arise, conflicts are exacerbated and strife becomes more likely. Nationalist violence thus appears as almost inevitable – a tragedy. It seems as if in a world of nation-states each stateless nation will naturally seek a state of its own. As long as the political map does not accord with the human geography of nations, some of these will have their wishes frustrated. The ensuing conflicts all bear the potential for violent escalation. Difference – read ethnicity –, it seems, is an irreducible cause of conflict. At best, one can mitigate its impact and contain conflagrations. Yet, it has also

For recent comprehensive treatments of the phenomenon of ethnic conflict, see Landis and Albert (2012), Jesse and Williams (2010), and Cordell and Wolff (2010). 8

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been acknowledged that the problem is not the existence of categorical differences per se but the struggle for power that instrumentalizes them for political ends, transforms group identities, and thereby renders difference problematic (see Fearon and Laitin 2000; Brubaker and Laitin 1998). Twenty years ago, Michael Ignatieff, commenting on the conflicts raging in former Yugoslavia, warned: ―we are ending the search for explanation just when it should begin if we assert that local ethnic hatreds were so rooted in history that they were bound to explode into nationalist violence. On the contrary, these people had to be transformed from neighbors into enemies‖ (1993: 15-6). While the ―ancient hatreds‖ argument has since been put to rest, his point is still valid. Finding that a conflict plays out between Xs and Ys does not allow us to conclude that the conflict is about X or Y. Rather it is made into such. The origins of such a transformation are located within the respective groups rather than in-between them – and, as I argue, a major driving force behind it is violence. That existential threats create antagonistic identities and fundamentally alter the dynamic of conflict has repeatedly been exploited by self-interested elites. Reviewing selected case studies of ethnic conflict, Fearon and Laitin found that they often ―foment ethnic violence to build political support‖ (2000: 853). The idea that ethnicity is essentially what people make of it has made inroads into the study of ethnic and nationalists conflicts. But although collective identity and its construction has increasingly become the focus of research, identities often seem readily available to be tapped by political actors. For instance, Saideman, Dougherty, and Jenne (2005) argue that different identity types, that is, territorial, communal, and ideological definitions of collective identity, are strategically chosen and combined by secessionist movements in order to maximize support at home and abroad. While their emphasis on the strategic value of identity is well taken, identity constructions are sui generis and endogenous to conflict dynamics as Campana (2006) shows with regard to the conflicting identity narratives that emerged in war-torn Chechnya. What eludes both, however, are the underlying intragroup processes hinted at by Fearon and Laitin (2000), that is, the role the strategic use of violence plays in the transformation of collective identities.9 How do the above-mentioned insights about nations and nationalism, on the one hand, and ethnic violence, on the other, translate into a theoretical approach that takes this aspect into account? This requires taking a closer look at the strategic setting of nationalist conflicts. Nationalism, as an ideology and doctrine inspiring oppositional politics, is actively pursued by a minority only. Nationalists strongly identify with the idea of the nation and aspire to represent and, when possible, lead it. Their claims are all but variations of a common theme which stresses existential threats to the nation and the

Some of those who have attempted to tackle that issue, though in different ways, are Kalyvas (2003), Varshney (2003), and Laitin (1998; 1995). 9

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need to counter them. The most militant among them advocate a particularly combative and uncompromising type of nationalism, proportionate to the forces of inertia that they see as working against a national awakening. 10 They call for an extra-institutional struggle.11 Armed resistance is considered imperative and inevitable. Yet the militants contemplating such ideas usually are ―almost ludicrously tiny groups of disaffected people,‖ as Polk puts it (2007: xix). Not only do they ―sally forth against vastly superior armies and police forces,‖ but they also have to cope with the apathy of their own people (Polk 2007: xix). They are, so to say, squeezed in-between their nation, on the one hand, and the state, on the other. The odds are impossible. They only way to prevail is by shifting the balance of power. Lacking the military means to do so, such a shift can be achieved by gains in political legitimacy that compensate for physical inferiority. In order to gain legitimacy, militant nationalists have to reach out to their compatriots and mobilize them. Given that the principle of popular sovereignty has made the people the foremost basis of power, it is only by rallying their own that militants can offset their military weakness. They have to make true on their claim that they represent a nation struggling for freedom and independence. By successfully mobilizing their people, militants emerge as legitimate representatives of a nation that deserves self-determination. Thereby, the notion of mobilization cannot be reduced to huge crowds taking to the streets and people offering active support (see, e.g., Barany 2005). These are mere epiphenomena of larger ground-breaking processes that political observers within and without try to gauge. Usually referred to as indicators of a shift in the balance of power, they receive their meaning only within debates on the normative foundations of the political order – a process captured by the notion of political legitimacy.12 Much like exceptional meteorological phenomena are used to make a point about climate change, militants seek to capitalize on events which show that the current order is frail and legitimacy shifting over to their side. However, unlike natural phenomena, situations that indicate a larger process of change can be manufactured in order to accelerate such a shift. Here, violence is instrumental.

There are several examples of small beginnings and they seem to be the rule rather than the exception. Draza Mihailovic‘s Chetniks are said to have numbered only 26 in the beginning, the Greek resistance in the Second World War only 15, Giap‘s Viet Minh were a group of 34 operatives when they began to move against the French in 1944 (Polk 2007: xix, 157). 10

Nationalism can take different forms. While all nationalisms share the idea that their nation deserves a state and that the nation should be the primary identity, the most aggressive forms reject institutional avenues in pursuit of their claim, are maximalist in their demands, stress the need to act before it is too late, and therefore condone the use of violence. It is this type of nationalism I am interested in. 11

Alternatively, we might want to explain for rebels as the result of immediate coercion. This is an important aspect and punishments of compatriots should receive far more attention. But having recourse to coercion as means for securing support shows that the group in question has already lost legitimacy. I do not know of any group that has thriven on coercion only. 12

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Attacking the state holds the potential to turn nationalist claims into self-fulfilling prophecies. Small-scale incidences provoke the security forces into overreaction. It is commonly accepted that disproportionate response to domestic challenges, rather than containing conflict, tends to intensify it (but Lichbach 1987). In the context of a nationalist conflict, repressive policies are likely to be indiscriminate. Lacking precise information, authorities become suspicious of the loyalty of those who constitute the ―natural‖ constituency of armed militants (Fearon and Laitin 1996). Whereas most of them will keep their distance with radicals, instances of ethnic victimization stoke collective fears and generate solidarity among those who feel discriminated against. Understanding that you might be targeted simply for what you are forces one to reconsider her established social relations and political allegiance. When people begin to separate along ethnic lines, collective antagonisms grow. New narratives about ―us‖ and ―them‖ emerge, substantiated by the experience of escalating violence. This will be registered by participants and observes alike. It changes their perspective on the conflict and thus legitimizes the militants and their struggle.13 Notwithstanding the military situation on the ground, the political struggle is decided when legitimacy has decisively shifted toward them. The following episode illustrates the implications of such a dynamic. In the 1980s US President Reagan suggested that there was a way to tell ―freedom fighters‖ from ―terrorists‖: the former, he asserted, do ―not need to terrorize a population into submission. … Freedom fighters struggle to liberate their citizens from oppression and to establish a form of government that reflects the will of the people‖ (quoted in Shane 2010). In the summer of 1998 another American (this time from the opposite side of the political divide) was to demonstrate how this worked out in practice. In the conflict over Kosovo, the US had initially labeled the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) a terrorist organization. But upon emerging from a meeting with Albanian notables and rebel fighters in the war zone, Ambassador Holbrooke stated: ―These people are beleaguered and they don‘t have supplies … Serb security forces are all over the place … The Serbs should get out of here …‖ (quoted in Brown 1998). The picture had changed. The popular support shown for the KLA in the face of wholesale destruction caused by a ruthless Serb counterinsurgency campaign led to a change of mind. About eight months later a young KLA fighter, Hashim Thaci, was to head the Albanian delegation at the Rambouillet conference on the fate of Kosovo, only to assume the premiership of the Kosovar state later. By provoking an escalation of violence, the KLA had vindicated its uncompromising stance and rallied the people behind it. At home, the KLA emerged as Nationalist conflict usually results from state-led drives for cultural homogenization in the context of rapid industrial modernization. The latter produces social inequalities that coincided with ethnocultural differences (Gellner 1983). Yet, political history is one of strategies of inclusive exclusion and thus group-specific inequalities - although inacceptable today - are not antithetic to social and political integration. And even those suffering from their subaltern status do not necessarily welcome change. 13

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champion of the nationalist cause. Abroad, its struggle against what another US official had earlier called a ―typical colonial situation‖ was beginning to be perceived as righteous for it defended a hapless population against the vicious attacks of the state‘s security forces.14 Belgrade‘s legitimacy to represent Kosovo‘s Albanian majority was fatally weakened. As the story of the KLA and other non-state armed nationalist groups shows, armed provocations are intended to goad the authorities into reactions that ultimately undermine the state‘s legitimacy. The struggle for legitimacy in nationalist conflicts revolves around the question of who can claim the legitimate representation of the people. The quest to wrest political legitimacy from the state is thus founded on people‘s identity. By escalating violence, militants can reach out to them since the material consequences of fighting transform collective self-representations. Once alienated from the state, people are likely to adopt a defiant stance and rally round the militants who, in turn, emerge as their true defenders. In other words, the struggle for legitimacy is about the nature of the political community. Who the people are is determined by the dominant ethnocultural categories. What they are, the image they project of themselves – what I refer to as collective identity – is far more malleable and will always be contested. Shared understandings of what it means to belong govern social and political interactions along ethnic boundaries and, in turn, are influenced by them. Thus, the way the nation is imagined establishes who can legitimately represent it. The question ―What are we?‖ is at the heart of the political struggle. From this perspective, the struggle for legitimacy is a struggle for identity. Nationalist militants, contrary to what is often thought, do not simply tap preexisting ethnic identity; they rather attempt to shape it for their own purposes. In order to legitimize themselves, militant nationalists seek to steer collective identity into a nationalist direction. The nation‘s identity has to appear incompatible with the state‘s identity. The escalation of violence, as we will see, has a formative effect which propaganda alone cannot achieve. It is the facts provided by the onslaught of violence that make discourses about identity meaningful and sticky. This, I argue, accounts for much of the political instrumentality of violence. From this angle it appears as a full-blown political strategy. Starting from these conjectures, my take on the violent politics of nationalist conflict focuses on the actions of armed militants and assesses how the impact of violence on collective identity helps them to become legitimate. The theoretical framework I present assumes the following ideal-typical process: In nationalist conflicts successfully opposing the state means wresting legitimacy away from it. It is not the government or regime but the the political institutions themselves that become the target of delegitimation. Militant nationalists 14

In 1992, then-US Ambassador to Yugoslavia, Warren Zimmerman, was reported to have said this (RFE/RL 1992).

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have to delegitimize the current institutional framework and legitimize themselves in order to prevail. The crux is to gain recognition as legitimate representative of a nation that deserves self-determination. The struggle for legitimacy thus is a matter of identity. It poses two interrelated challenges. First, in order to show that the state does not represent the nation for which they claim to fight, militants have to alienate the people from its institutions and key constituencies. They have to foment collective antagonisms. The binary logic of an existential struggle has to dominate perceptions within and without. Collective identity has to be transformed. The nation has to emerge as a united, combative, and uncompromising actor in a semblance of cohesion and loyalty. Second, in order to achieve this, militants have to make their constituency behave accordingly. The delegitimation of the status quo has to materialize in collective action and lead to a display of popular opposition. Cooperation across ethnic boundaries and with the authorities has to cease. Alternative avenues for political expression, cross-cutting political concerns; and – more generally – all forms of interaction that mitigate the relevance of ethnocultural categories have to be subverted. It is in the wake of behavioral shifts that collective representations change. The most effective means to bring such a development about is armed provocation. Its potential to prompt indiscriminate repression is of major help in the effort to erode the state‘s legitimacy. Vicious reprisals that are perceived as unjustified not only discredit the authorities, they also vindicate the nationalists‘ agenda. Overreaction by the state‘s security forces substantiates the claim that the nation is imperiled, that immediate action in self-defense is necessary, and that the only adequate political perspective is independent statehood. It is a politique du pire, the attempt to benefit from an aggravation of the situation one has brought about by one‘s own actions. In a nutshell, the theoretical argument goes as follows: armed militants in nationalist conflicts employ political violence in order to gain legitimacy by successfully claiming the position of political representation of their nation. It is by making people‘s behavior coincide with their understanding of the nation‘s identity that they gain political power. Making the world look like they see it makes their struggle a justified and righteous one for participants and observes alike. In order to tap that resource, the militants‘ strategy is one of armed provocation directed against the state. The theoretical framework I am going to present seeks to capture this dynamic in that it relates the three key concepts of my approach, namely legitimacy, identity, and violence. The core of this framework is the mechanism of provoked escalation of violence, that is, the action-reaction sequence likely to be triggered by such a strategy. The idea, in short, is that violence can help to garner legitimacy which, in nationalist conflicts, is a question of identity. The hypothesized mechanism of provoked escalation thus has the potential to set off what I call the twin process of identity transformation and political

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legitimation. The three concepts which constitute the building blocks of the framework will each require a separate treatment that leads to their re-conceptualization with regard to the phenomenon under investigation and eventually their integration into my framework. There is no doubt that the idea of the instrumentality of violence is all too familiar to students of political violence or terrorism. What has eluded most analyses of nationalist conflict, however, is precisely how violence is functional in the political struggle. Underneath the debate on the factors for why and when we witness nationalist violence – usually revolving around questions on causation and timing – lurks the question of how violence actually works if it is used as a political strategy (see, e.g., Petersen 2002; Kaufman 2001; Gurr 1993; Posen 1993). It is here that my work offers an original contribution to the debate. Before I continue four meta-theoretical remarks are in order. First, my work provides an unlikely merger of strategic analysis and constructivist ideas. It is formulated as a mechanism-based theory in which I attempt to reconstruct the complex sociopolitical process leading from the recourse to violence to political power. Starting from the question of how the occurrence of violence in nationalist conflict can be explained, it evolves into an argument about how the nation is constructed, that is, how it is shaped and formed under the impact of violence. An inquiry into the political rationale behind the resort to violence thus opens the perspective on the larger and comprehensive social process of collective identity transformation. I will introduce this approach as strategic constructivism – the intentional creation of facts in order to influence the process of social construction. Second, the constructivist dimension of my inquiry raises the question of how much ideas matter in politics. Inherent to the phenomenon of nations and nationalism is the presence of claims to existential threats to a community presented as perennial and bearer of rights and thus worthy of protection. But beliefs about the social world matter only insofar as they attach to material experiences and interests which are logically prior to it. The act of endowing something with meaning is incumbent on its earlier presence. It is not ideas all the way down, as some tend to think.15 Third, the approach I propose is not conceived in terms of necessity but sufficiency. I am ready to accept that the struggle for identity and legitimacy can be waged nonviolently, think of elections and institutionalized ways of shaping collective identities. Indeed, violence might in some instance even undermine legitimacy as the case of the FLQ in Québec will show. Also, as I already suggested, political violence might follow a rationale For instance, I do not need a notion of physical suffering to know what it is and to identify it in other beings, humans and animals alike. However, suffering is soon conceptualized and, as an abstract notion, endowed with meaning and thus made part and parcel of the world we inhabit. 15

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different from the one aiming at legitimacy. But insofar violence is used in the pursuit of political legitimacy, it should follow the path set out by my theoretical framework. The path I sketch there is formulated in deterministic terms. Yet, as the case studies bear out, when it comes to its operation, context matters. Fourth, the model I propose is not a straightforward causal explanation as commonly understood. I rather assume a functional relationship linking violence to political power. Although the issue of identity is sometimes addressed head on by political actors – as in the case of the Palestinian Fatah -- legitimacy is hardly mentioned as a goal in its own right. In militants‘ eyes their actions do not require legitimation, of course. They seek to invigorate the nation, wake it from its slumber or overcome the people‘s alleged lack of faith in their own strength. The use of violence is often rationalized in these terms. However, I argue that the underlying social and political processes are more complicated – but this is precisely what allows me to reconstruct the functional relationship between violence and political power in causal terms. Yet, as will become clear in the case studies, my approach sheds light on how the use of violence produces unintended results. The empirical validation of my theoretical framework, the assessment of its capacity to explain the use of nationalist violence by its impact on collective identity and political legitimacy, demands reviewing the historical record of the cases at hand. I provide historical narratives in which I reconstruct the causal process through which violence was or was not useful in increasing the political power of militant nationalists. While I attempt to remain sensitive to the complexities of the historical material, the narratives are structured along the hypothesized path laid out in my theoretical framework. In each case the analytical narrative then offers an empirical illustration of the plausibility of the framework and shows its heuristic payoff. Across the cases, the comparison then indicates how the mechanism at the core of the hypothesized processes operates in different settings and thus under different circumstances. This hints at the possibility of moving beyond the heuristic use of the framework in single cases and toward a contingent generalization, that is, the identification of a recurrent dynamic whose operation is, however, context-depenent. In rendering my approach amenable to empirical analysis I will have to consider several elements. In a first step and in keeping up with the constructivist thrust of my approach, I have to provide a historical narrative of the origins of the conflict which brings its contingencies into the limelight. Nationalist conflict does not emerge out of the blue, nor do armed groups. A history of conflict predates the arrival of the latter and inspires their struggle. Yet, their actions should not be mistaken for the mere bubbling up of primordial sentiments in an age-old conflict. Their struggle transforms the very conflict that renders their presence meaningful. The common practice of reinterpreting past conflicts in light of the present order of battle suggests a historic depth which is fundamentally flawed. It is the lived experience – the exigencies of the here and now

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– that imposes homogeneity on the past. In nationalist conflicts the past is nationalized; contradictory events are streamlined in order to fit political preferences. Only by taking our distance from seamless master narratives it is possible to appreciate the identity-forming impact of a legitimacy-seeking strategy of political violence. In a second step, the analysis has to turn to nationalist militants, the armed groups who are the protagonists of my study. Their history, ideology, and strategic thinking have to be looked at in detail. In order for my model to apply, it has to be shown that they not only shared a nationalist agenda but considered violence as a propaganda tool in a struggle for the hearts and minds of their people. Violence has to be considered expedient, not so much for military as for political reasons. Next, the third step of the empirical analysis focuses on the militants‘ actions. The impact of a strategy of armed provocation is analyzed in selected episodes of attempted escalation of violence. According to my approach, it is during these episodes that the legitimating power of violence becomes visible. The behavioral shifts prompted by escalating violence should vindicate the collective self-representations militant nationalists seek to promote. These episodes, if successful, will provide the materials of a new nationalist narrative that legitimizes the struggle against the state and empowers the militants. This is the object of the final section of the empirical analysis. The fourth step is to assess the fallout of these episodes in terms of identity transformation and legitimation. It has to be seen whether, in the wake of escalating violence, the militants rose to the status of representatives of a struggling nation at home and abroad. The assumed link between legitimacy and identity requires that special attention be paid to the hegemonic collective self-representation and to the role that the armed struggle played in it. Although new nationalist narratives emerge with a time lag, the events it captures and the sense it imputes on events demonstrate the formative impact the violent struggle for legitimacy has on political identity. Which are the nationalist conflicts I selected for my study? This begs the question of the population of potential cases. Fortunately, violent nationalist conflicts are rare.16 Although one might argue for the existence of a Breton or Bavarian nation; they hardly produced a nationalist mass movement, let alone a violent one. But what can we say about the population of violent nationalist conflicts? More than a decade ago Ayres (2000) I follow Ayres in not using a quantitative threshold of violence in order to consider a nationalist conflict violent. Violence in nationalist conflicts is a relative matter and requires qualitative weighting. Whereas violence in intrastate conflicts always signals a fundamental shift in a conflict‘s quality and dynamic, its impact is not necessarily proportional to its intensity. A handful of victims in an otherwise peaceful environment with a modest homicide rate can have an impact that by far outweighs the impact of several dozen deaths in an environment marked by civil war. 16

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compiled a data set on violent intrastate nationalist conflict (VINC). VINC lists intrastate conflicts involving nationalists that have a ―violent history‖ for the period 1945 to 1996 (Ayres 2000: 109). Ayres found 55 violent conflict dyads that is, single instances of a state opposing a nationalist group.17 The geographical distribution shows an almost complete absence of this type of conflict in the Americas, with only one case – the indigenous Moskito facing the Nicaraguan state. Minahan‘s (1996) Historical Dictionary of Contemporary National Movements that lists 210 politically active stateless nations out of an estimated 9 000 candidates includes 39 of the 52 nations that appear on the VINC list.18 The difference is explained, on the one hand, by the successful independence of ten of them prior to 1996 (Bengalis, Eritreans, Croatians, Slovenes, Latvians, Lithuanians, Estonians, Armenians, Azeri, and Ukrainians) and, on the other, is due to the remaining three not listed – most likely because they are considered irredentist (Republican Catholics in Northern Ireland and Serbs in Bosnia) or have been suppressed (the 1995 rout of Serbs in Croatia). For the last decade the Minorities at Risk project still shows 42 groups of the VINC list among the 285 active ethnic groups comprising their dataset (MAR 2009), excluding those 10 who have acceded to independence. Some of the listed conflicts have thoroughly transformed however. The role of Ibos in Nigeria is not linked to the question of an independent Biafra anymore, nor do we see a Lunda- or Yeke-based movement demanding independence for Katanga today. And, while all the groups who had a nationalist movement involved in violent conflict since 1945 are still active – insofar they did not achieve statehood –, there are close to none that have joined their ranks since 1996. Perhaps the Muslim Uighur, the Turkmen population of Western China, might now qualify because of the level of violence as does the conflict over Darfur.19 Yet it is hard to find a nationalist conflict that has popped up since, less one that has the additional feature of having turned violent. In fact, several were terminated during the last couple of years. East Timor and Southern Sudan became independent and Kosovo, Northern Cyprus, Nagorno-Karabakh, South Ossetia and Abkhazia have consolidated their de facto independence, as has Transdniestra. In Northern Ireland, Aceh, and on Mindanao negotiations for peace were successfully concluded. Meanwhile, independent Chechnya was reduced by force and brought back into the fold of the Russian Federation. Likewise, Tamil Eelam, the state established by the Tigers, was dismantled For a few VINC cases the composition of the dyads is not clear. In Bosnia in the early 1990s there were two challengers when Serbs‘ rejection of inclusion in the Bosnian state was paralleled by fights between Bosnian forces and Croats who sought to carve out Herzegovina. Also, in the case of Uganda it is difficult to pinpoint who the contender is or was. Cases which are not included in VINC but susceptible to fit its criteria are, among others, the struggle in Aceh on Sumatra‘s northern tip, the Moros on Mindanao in the Philippines, and the issue of Baluchistan. Moreover, in Europe cases like South Tyrol and Corsica have shown little violence but because of the circumstances the violence there is or was qualitatively significant. The same is true for Québec although Ayres denies that it has a history of violence. 17

The difference is explained by the fact that in the VINC list Kurds appear three times (against Turkey, Iran, and Iraq) and the Tuareg twice (against Mali and Niger). 18

19

For how much nationalist aspiration count in both is a different question. Yet, ideas of nationhood are present.

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in a bloody campaign in 2009. In Europe the Basque ETA is almost finished. By all accounts, armed struggle in the name of a nationalist cause seems to have lost steam. The violence provoked by the unresolved question of Palestine and the war over the self-declared Tuareg state of Azawad are perhaps nothing more than remnants of a twentieth-century phenomenon.20 And the so-called frozen conflicts in the Caucasus stand like sleeping volcanoes – of old, apparently solid but ready to erupt one day. Out of the population of twentieth century violent nationalist conflicts I selected three for my study. These are the struggles of those we nowadays refer to as Palestinians, Kosovo Albanians, and Québécois and of the major armed groups they produced – Fatah/PLO, KLA, and FLQ respectively. The three cases constitute highly disparate instances of nationalist struggles, taking place at different times and in widely diverging sociopolitical contexts. Also, the duration and the intensity of violence vary considerably between them: The KLA‘s activity lasted a few years while Fatah‘s armed struggle spans more than two decades. Casualties range from less than a dozen casualties throughout a decade in the case of the FLQ to hundreds if not thousands in the cases of KLA and Fatah. What the three cases have in common, however, is that they all represent lasting legacies of the painful political transformation of imperial spaces which set off in the nineteenth century. The conflicts at hand are the result of the uneasy introduction of the nation-state form to places where culturally heterogeneous populations used to live under dynastic rule. We are confronted with contested and still-ongoing processes of defining the political community and redrawing borders: The struggles of Fatah and the KLA are both belated echoes of the turmoil brought about by the dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire. The FLQ is part of a larger process that saw the Canadian state gradually replacing the retreating British Empire. In each of these conflicts the armed militants I study resented the post-imperial territorial-administrative order which allegedly had thwarted their nations‘ right to self-determination. They thought of themselves as embodying the authentic wish of a people for a state whose realization had been obstructed by a coterie of powerful states and collective inertia. Yet, in all three cases, the collective referents of the political community shifted over time as did the boundaries within which self-determination was supposed to be realized. And, in all three militants resorted to violent means in pursuit of the nationalist dream of statehood. In fact, as the case studies reveal, the three display striking

Is violent nationalist conflict on the wane? It all points in this direction. As Gurr stressed a while ago, based on the MAR data, that in the 1990s, the number of wars of self-determination had been halved (2000a: 54). The surge of the early 1990s in the wake of the dismemberment of the Soviet Union and of Yugoslavia combined with the horror over the genocide in Rwanda concealed a more general trend: The number of violent nationalist conflicts was in fact declining and what captured our attention were long-standing conflicts that hit the headlines (Fearon and Laitin 2003). In increasing numbers nationalist conflicts, now often revamped as minority issues eneded in stalemates or were even resolved by diplomacy. This trend has been confirmed more recently by Duffy Toft and Saideman (2010). 20

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similarities with regard to the way the protagonists thought about the strategic use of violence, that is, the use of armed provocation for political ends. For all that separates the three cases from each other, the common nature of the respective struggles and the shared coincidence of political violence and shifts in identity categories and territorial scope permits me to unearth the presence of a common sociopolitical dynamic. The analytic narratives I provide show how the strategy of armed provocation is a crucial aspect of nationalist politics given that the mechanism of provoked escalation is at the heart of the concurrent processes of identity transformation and political legitimation. What do the case studies reveal? Fatah‘s armed struggle transformed the Arabs from Palestine into Palestinians. It was launched with the firm intent to make Palestinians the vanguard of the Arab nation by invigorating the Palestinian kiyan – the Palestinian identity or entity. But the excessive reliance on a strategy of armed provocation proved a doubleedged sword. While it secured Fatah‘s political ascent as a regional player and led to its takeover of the PLO, the armed struggle exacerbated inner-Arab animosities when Palestinians began to clash with Arab regimes. Although Fatah/PLO marched from defeat to defeat, with Yasser Arafat as popular leader, it managed to command the loyalty of the bulk of Palestinians. Then, in the late 1980s, with the Arab nationalist framework of the Palestinian struggle in shatters, Fatah‘s Palestinianism would inspire the Intifada in the Occupied Territories (OTs). Turning the Arab-Israeli conflict into an Israeli-Palestinian one, the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza rose up to reclaim a Palestinian state in Palestinian-majority lands. A Palestinian nationalism was born, emancipated from Arab nationalism. This provided the basis for the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the 1990s. The PLO, strong of the legitimacy the armed struggle had conferred to it, kept the status as ―sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people‖, as the famous formula went. I claim that Fatah‘s struggle left an ineffaceable mark on Palestinian self-perception which gave the PLO an outstanding popularity among Palestinians. By making Palestinians into what they are, the armed struggle of those militants known as the fedayeen reshaped the parameters of the conflict. Nowadays, the presence of a Palestinian nation is considered a fact and it seems difficult to deny Palestinians the right to self-determination. The KLA followed a similar trajectory, albeit a more compressed one, whose outcome in terms of identity formation is still uncertain. Labeled by some the most successful guerrilla movement of modern times, the KLA was certainly the most efficient one. Its former cadres now occupy the commanding heights of the fledgling Kosovar state, thriving on the legitimacy the war effort provided them. Like Fatah the KLA set out with an excessively ambitious goal: It aspired to lead the Albanian nation toward unification. Central to its struggle against the Serb authorities were armed provocations. Initially the war over Kosovo was meant to kick-start a

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pan-Albanian movement. But the KLA‘s struggle remained centered on Kosovo. What is known as ―Greater Albania‖ remained a dream. Kosovo, ―lost‖ in 1912 when modern Albania was created, is now the second Albanian entity in the Balkans. Although tentative, the claim that the KLA‘s struggle has thrown the foundations for the emergence of a Kosovar nation has some purchase. I will show how the war in the late 1990s and the massive victimization it caused provided for a singular experience that set Kosovo Albanians further apart from their neighboring Albanian populations – all while empowering the KLA which assumed pre-eminence in the Kosovar political arena. Compared to the two former, the FLQ is of little significance to world history were it not for Québec‘s own historiography. It was a short-lived amateurish endeavor whose actions eventually proved self-defeating. A sideshow to the larger political developments that took place in the institutional realm at the time, the legitimacy of the FLQ‘s extra-institutional struggle was close to naught. Although the FLQ attempted to exploit the potential of armed provocations, the ideological shift to the left limited its appeal. The nationalist orientation displayed by the first generation of militants soon gave way to an emphasis on social revolution. The FLQ‘s critique of the bourgeois character of the Québécois nationalist mainstream contributed to its isolation. But despite its minor impact, the FLQ‘s struggle took place at a time of fundamental political change and thus became part of it. It was only in the 1960s that Québec‘s French-Canadian population began to adopt the idea of a Québécois nation with the right to a state of its own. The contemporary FLQ was then exploited by the nationalist mainstream as a warning and provided a source for nationalist myth-making. Thereby, its armed struggle inadvertently left its mark on Québécois political identity although, as I will show, the crucial episode in this process was not meant as a provocation in the first place. The case studies show that across the three cases and despite their vastly different settings, nationalist violence came to be used in similar ways but with varying levels of impact in terms of identity transformation and thus legitimation. This indicates that the working of the hypothesized dynamic is conditional. It also points to the fact that other trajectories are present and at work. The identity-forming potential of violence, for instance, competes with the effects exerted by territorial-administrative structures as the principal arenas of institutional struggle. Whereas the extra-institutional armed struggle will leave a fundamental legacy in the way people think about themselves, the institutional framework of the state remains a crucial instrument for nurturing a coherent national consciousness – even in opposition to the identity the state tries to impose. Hence, the formative impact of the armed struggle has to be qualified. What we observe in the cases investigated here are armed militants championing concepts of nationhood that go beyond the populations they are actually fighting for (with a surprising twist in the case of the FLQ). All while addressing their immediate constituencies they thought to advance a higher ideological goal. Yet the territorial-administrative

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structures they faced worked as a straitjacket for their extra-institutional struggle. While they sought to overcome the current political boundaries they had to work with them. Ultimately, the armed struggle and thus the transforming effect it had on national identity were unable to break the mold of the territorial status quo. As paradoxical as it may appear, the armed nationalist struggles proved to be processes of adaption. They concretized and thereby transformed the idea of the nation on a local level. While Fatah‘s Palestinianism was imagined to lead the Arab nation toward liberation, it eventually found in the OTs a land to reclaim and became a nationalism proper. Given the absence of an institutional basis, this is a singular trajectory. The fedayeen bestowed Arab refugees from Palestine with a distinct identity as an Arab people. Despite the decline of Arab nationalism, Palestinianism, evolving within the Arab nationalist framework, unified the Palestinians who were spread all over the Middle East and beyond. But the political developments fragmented that newly found Palestinian unity when the struggle refocused on the OTs and became a Palestinian nationalist one. Those refugees living abroad, who were initially in the forefront of the armed struggle, found themselves on the sidelines. The Palestinian nation is now to be found in the OTs. The KLA‘s Albanian nationalism, though geared toward Greater Albania, was decidedly Kosovar in character. It adapted to the territorial-administrative mold established by Yugoslav-era politics. Also, waging its struggle for legitimacy in Kosovo, the KLA had to contend with a prior history of institutional struggle. Neither did the KLA manage to successfully export its struggle to the other Albanian communities in former Yugoslavia, nor could it totally exclude its competitors for the allegiance of the Kosovars. That the KLA‘s political successor came only second in the first Kosovar elections in 2001 testifies to this. However, its struggle defined Kosovar political identity and nowadays former KLA cadres are in power, using the state to consolidate the myths surrounding the war. The KLA‘s war, with hindsight, looks more like a struggle to liberate Kosovo and consolidate its political identity than a struggle for the unification of Albanian lands. As to the FLQ, although some of its activists were beholden to a French-Canadian nationalism that exceeded the borders of the Province of Québec, they eventually accommodated themselves to the nascent Québécois nationalism. However, soon the ideological horizon widened. The FLQ‘s struggle became part of the global struggle to emancipate the world‘s oppressed masses. Seeking higher goals, it lost whatever appeal an exclusively nationalist stance might have provided them with. In fact, the erstwhile struggle for independence from the rest of Canada increasingly took the form of a québéco-québécois clash over society‘s class-based order. The FLQ‘s constituency shrunk to elements of the urbanized left, but, as I will show, its struggle was a formative experience for the Québécois nation nonetheless

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What am I going to do in the following? The thesis is organized in two main parts. The first provides a discussion of the key concepts, namely legitimacy, identity, and violence, and introduces the mechanismbased theoretical framework underpinning the analytic narratives. A mechanism-based explanatory strategy, as I am going to argue, seeks to make visible and intelligible the cogs and wheels of large-scale social processes, that is, the mechanisms and processes that bring about the outcomes that constitute the phenomena we seek to explain. The second part then comprises the three case studies. Here I rely on what is nowadays widely known as process-tracing and which constitutes the logical methodological choice whenever mechanisms are invoked. I offer three analytic narratives of the political developments of the respective nationalist conflicts which highlight the hypothesized trajectory. I conclude with a discussion of the results in view of my framework. The theoretical discussion begins with a review of the concept of legitimacy and shows how, in modern times, the nation became central to political legitimacy. I argue that the legitimation of power can be offset by the power of legitimacy and present a rule-based approach to legitimacy. This leads me to address the advent of nationalism as a theory of legitimacy based on the concept of popular sovereignty. The intimate relation between political legitimacy and the idea of the nation is captured by the principle of self-determination whose development I retrace. The notion of self-determination begs the question of what this ―self‖ is all about. This lets me take a closer look at the nation as a form of collective ethnic identity. I will conceptualize the nation as a cognitive phenomenon which offers a novel explanation for how nationalism works. Criticizing the common approach, which I term ―belief into action‖ model, I suggest an ―action into belief‖ model which conceives of beliefs as mediated by people‘s behavior. The next section then ties the previously gained insights back to the analysis of violence as a political strategy. Here, I will turn to debates on terrorism and guerrilla warfare. I highlight the identity-forming capacity of violence and differentiate between strategies following either a logic of tyranny or one of legitimacy. Adopting the latter I finally introduce my theoretical framework whose pivot is the mechanism of provoked escalation which is at the heart of the twin process of identity transformation and legitimation. It is along these lines that I organize the empirical analyses. The second part then is dedicated to the case studies. My theoretical framework here structures three theoryinformed historical narratives and serves as heuristic tool by which I unearth an oft-obscured dynamic of the role of violence in nationalist struggles. In the stories, which are not strictly chronological but rather organized according to theoretical concerns, I analyze the politics of the respective armed nationalist groups, the political development of their constituencies, and the nationalist imaginary which established them as nations demanding a separate state. This requires that I review the history of the respective national movements, discuss the ideology, strategy, and actions of the armed groups I am interested in, and review selected

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episodes of violent escalation before looking at the latters‘ impact in terms of identity transformation and political legitimation. As to the findings of the present study, I show that the hypothesized interrelatedness of violent escalation, on the one hand, and identity transformation and legitimation, on the other, is borne out by the detailed narratives in the case studies -- although the intensity of this link differs markedly across the three. Yet, in each of the cases at hand, the presence of the mechanism of provoked escalation can be identified and in each it left traces on the way collective identity is conceived of and thus had an impact on the structure of legitimacy. For each case then the theoretical framework displays an added value in heuristic terms as it opens a new perspective on the individual historical record. In addition, across the three cases, I find that the variation in intensity and duration of violence goes hand in hand with similar levels of variation in both, gains in political legitimacy and depth of the impact of violence on collective identity. We might conclude, as a rule of thumb, that the higher the intensity of violence, the stronger was its identity-forming aspect and thus the legitimacy nationalist militants came to enjoy in its wake. In short, the stronger the reactions you provoke the more you gain. This tentative finding highlights the role of the case-specific context for the working of the theoretical framework all while suggesting the potential for contingent generalizations.

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PART ONE: THE VIOLENT POLITICS OF NATIONALISM

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INTRODUCTION Nationalism is a form of politics. The most fundamental point about nationalism is that it is about power and thus about control of the state since the state is indisputably the most universal mode of political power.21 If we follow Breuilly, the ―central question, therefore, should be to relate nationalism to the objective of obtaining and using state power‖ (1982: 2). Why is nationalism so important for seizing state power? The answer lies in the message conveyed by nationalist doctrine. Nationalism, as an ideology, projects a nation with an explicit and peculiar character rooted in shared descent and culture; it assumes that the nation‘s interest and values take priority over all other interests and values, and it wants to see the nation as independent as possible under the leadership of its most dedicated sons – rarely its daughters (see Breuilly 1982: 3). A concomitant theory of political legitimacy made nationalist doctrine the touchstone of political modernity. How did this come about? The eighteenth century idea of popular sovereignty changed the normative foundations of rule. It broke with the old order that was divinely-ordained, hierarchical, and, above all, dynastic (Anderson 1991). According to the new thinking, political legitimacy derived from the people who, as political community, constituted the nation. From that perspective a political order was legitimate only insofar as it could claim to embody the people‘s will. First invoked in the revolutions that took place in Britain‘s North American colonies and later France, the idea of the nation as the sovereign people began to spread. Throughout the so-called long nineteenth century it inspired an ever increasing number of political movements in Europe and beyond. The nation eventually became the yardstick for judging the legitimacy of claims to political representation in the international system – to the point where the concepts of nation and state fell into one and were employed interchangeably.22 Nation-ness, as Anderson put it, turned out to be ―the most universally legitimate value in the political life of our time‖ (1991: 3). The modern idea of the nation secured the former subjects‘ allegiance to the state by declaring their equality as citizens and made the state their possession. Yet, the ascent of the nation did not merely set existing political structures on a new footing. It proved utterly subversive – in particular to imperial rule or any regime denounced as such. The idea of the nation as the embodiment of the sovereignty people inevitably begs the question as to who the people are. First answered by reference to the fact of living (willingly) under a single government, with the same set of laws applying to all those living on the lands claimed by the state as belonging to its realm, the nineteenth century ushered in a new understanding of the nation. The ideological rendering of the nation –

21

The notion of ―cultural nationalism‖, therefore, is a misnomer - pace Plamenatz (1973).

22

See, e.g., the wording of the Charter of the United Nations (United Nations 1945).

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nationalism – gave it a cultural and thus a historical dimension. The nation was ethnicized. Why is that? The answer is found in the impact that the ascent of the nation as legitimating principle had on political competition. Given that the state now had to legitimize itself by reference to the nation whose institutional expression it claimed to be, its detractors had to subvert the very claim were they to alter the status quo. Attempts to take over the reins of power in the state or carve out new states alongside existing ones had to be formulated in the language of popular sovereignty. From now on political opposition found support in the alleged wish of a population to emancipate itself – either by reclaiming its sovereign status as a nation or by turning itself into such. The now-dominant understanding is well summarized by Guibernau: ―To define a specific community as a nation involves the more or less explicit acceptance of the legitimacy of the state which claims to represent it, or if the nation does not possess a state of its own, it then implicitly acknowledges the nation‘s right to selfgovernment involving some degree of political autonomy which may or may not lead to a claim for independence‖ (1999: 13). Where populations have not been politically unified prior to the rise of the concepts of popular sovereignty and nationhood, oppositional movements hark back to ethnic materials in order to determine and promote ―their‖ nation. Usually defined in religious or linguistic terms, ethnocultural differences are used as demarcation lines in oppositional attempts to mobilize the masses for the political struggle. In short, the legalism of the early concept of the state‘s nation gave birth to the ethnic nationalism of stateseeking movements. From now on ethnic groups were considered sovereign people in spe. The cultural community turned into a political one – the nation. Also, nationalism transformed the modern concept of political legitimacy. The message it conveyed, in Gellner‘s words, was ―that ethnic boundaries should not cut across political ones, and, in particular, that ethnic boundaries within a given state ... should not separate the power-holders from the rest‖ (1983: 1). Nationalism thus came to constitute a menace for multiethnic societies, since invoking the nation had the potential to undermine their legitimacy. Imperial regimes proved to be particularly threatened. Their very nature made it difficult for them to adapt to the principle of popular sovereignty let alone to the idea of nationhood. Although nation-states would also have to cope with the challenge posed by nationalism, empires were far more vulnerable to accusations of illegitimacy, for they did not even pretend to rule for and in the name of a nation. In retrospect, it can be said that, as a rule, the less effectively a state manages to harness the integrative and legitimizing power of the nation the easier it falls prey to the subversive forces of nationalism. The introduction of the principle of self-determination considerably enhanced the corrosive force of nationalism. It made nationalist doctrine a matter of principle. When President Wilson, in his Fourteen Points,

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asked to apply ―the principle of justice to all peoples and nationalities, and their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another,‖ it was nothing less than a call to reorganize Eurasia‘s political map on the basis of ethnocultural or, more specifically, ethnolinguistic criteria (1918a). Although the later de-colonization movement tried to revert to a territorial understanding of self-determination, nationalism kept its appeal.23 In the 1990s the spread of ethnic conflict in Eastern Europe‘s former socialist states prompted the establishment of a minority rights regime aimed at containing secessionist tendencies in the name of national selfdetermination (see Kymlicka 2006). Still, the idea of the nation-state as comprising an ethnically homogenous nation remains powerful – and thus the threat to the state where ethnic boundaries cut through the polity. Throughout the twentieth century nationalism has been both ―an attempt to seize control of the state (through the legitimacy which the ideology of nationalism can bestow), as well as a reaction against the state‟s interference and expansion (through the negation of such legitimacy)‖ (Conversi 1995: 75, his emphasis). In its opposition to the state or imperial rule, nationalist movements variously sought to reform or reinvigorate the nation, unify or redeem it (irredentism), or separate it through secession (Breuilly 1982).24 In an era dominated by the idea of popular sovereignty, nationalism is the most powerful form of oppositional politics because it not only challenges the current political order but projects a political community ready to replace it, that is, the ethnically defined nation. Nationalism, as I use the concept, is a principle of political legitimacy invoked by oppositional movements seeking state power in the name of nationalist doctrine.25 From the above said we may conclude that the nation, as imagined by nationalism, is nothing more than the politically conscious ethnic group. Nations, Stefan Wolff suggests, ―are often nothing but state-seeking or state-controlling ethnic groups‖ (2006: 54). Indeed, this is what nationalists usually pretend they are. Nationalism, according to this view, is the natural expression of the wish of cultural communities to assert their difference in the realm of politics in order to preserve and develop that very difference. Yet, neither has nationalism awakened dormant nations nor is it the default mode of how ethnic groups express themselves. Rather, nationalism introduced the nation-form into contexts where it essentially did not exist. Here the political See, e.g., UNGA Resolution 1514 (United Nations 1960) and the OAU Charter (Para.3, Art.III [OAU 1963]) as well as the OAU‘s Cairo Declaration of 1964 on border disputes among African states (OAU 1964). 23

State nationalism therefore is a somewhat odd notion and Breuilly argues that as state policy it does not make much sense. However, one might argue that nationalism can also be a movement that hijacks the state in order to reform its institutions or overhaul its constitution as fascism or national-socialism did. States are usually called ―nationalist‖ when factions attempt to harness their power to alter the status quo, at home and/or abroad, in an aggressive way. 24

Such a perspective is supported by historical comparative analyses. Looking at large scale institutional transformations on the long haul, Wimmer and Min argue that wars were ―fought over the most basic institutional principles of government i.e., the informal and formal rules that determine who legitimately can lay claim to governmental power and what the legitimate border of a polity should be‖ (2006: 872). 25

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order was based on different concepts, and family, tribe, and locale competed with larger and more abstract identities like the community of believers. Indeed, usually the nation had a hard time to impose itself. It was nationalism that made ethnic groups into nations. That nations are social constructions has become somewhat of a cliché. The nation as a cultural form has been associated with sweeping processes of social change, economic modernization, and progress more generally (Anderson 1991; Gellner 1983). The state has been identified as the main agent in this process – either by forming a homogenous nation in an attempt to reform its social and political basis or by producing discontent populations, who in reaction to these policies emerge as dissident nations (Hechter 2000; Gellner 1983).26 In fact, as to oppositional politics, nationalist discourse has been said to fall on fertile ground where conflicts over the distribution of goods and power are perceived through a cultural lens. As Hroch points out, in order to catalyze a national movement, there has to be ―a nationally relevant conflict of interest‖ (1993: 11). In the cases Hroch studied, nationalism gained more rapidly a mass following when ―national slogans and goals used by agitators to articulate social tensions‖ did in fact ―correspond to the immediate daily experience‖ (1993: 12). It often took on the form of class struggles reflected in status differentials and sustained by mutual stereotyping in daily interactions. Whatever their precise mode of construction, what all nations have in common is that they are ―actively cobbled together from actual social and historical material‖ by intellectuals and rendered salient by activists and politicians (Suny 1993: 3-4). It all usually starts as ―a minority movement pursued against the indifference and, frequently, hostility of the majority of the members of the ‗nation‘ in whose name the nationalists act‖ (Breuilly 1982: 19). Early students of the phenomenon of nations and nationalism were all too aware of this. Max Weber, who struggled to get a hold on the phenomenon of nationhood, found that although it was difficult to provide a concise definition of the nation, all national movements had something in common: the search for prestige by a minority of apologists who stress the nation‘s providential mission and exhort others to care for their cultural identity.27 While Weber had intellectuals in mind, Friedrich Meinecke, the godfather of German

In France, the establishment of the republican school in the late nineteenth century is credited with the feat to have made the French people French (see Weber 1977: 303). In Prussia the mass army was thought of as Schule der Nation – an idea introduced to immunize the nation against liberalizing tendencies (Ritter [1954] 1981: 857-8). Later, in the twentieth century, the Leninist inspired nationalities policies of Eastern European regimes institutionalized ethnocultural categories and, by declaring them nations or nationalities, made them into the basis for the territorial-administrative organization of the respective states, most prominently in the Soviet Union and Yugoslavia (Martin 2001). 26

Its appeal, writes Weber is based on a ―Legende von einer providentiellen ‗Mission‘ …, welche auf sich zu nehmen denen zugemutet wurde, an welche sich das Pathos ihrer Vertreter wendete, und die Vorstellung, daß diese Mission gerade durch die Pflege der individuellen Eigenart der als ‗Nation‘ gesonderte Gruppe und nur durch sie ermöglicht werde‖ [―The myth of a providential ‗'mission‘ ... which was expected to mobilize those at whom the appeal of their 27

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nationalities studies, found that much the same applies to nationalist politicians. In fact, it is characteristic of the nation‘s existence that its standard bearers are only a fraction of the national community they project. Nations are moved only by a minority of people, never by the masses that are inherently inert. The nation, Meinecke concludes, is thus always pars pro toto ([1907] 1962: 18). But, as Guibernau warned, ―elite nationalisms are bound to fail if they cannot obtain a mass following‖ (1999: 11). Nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding, the nation is an embattled entity. Why is it that a few appear to command the nation? It is important to realize that nations are far from the neatly bounded wholes, coherent and internally homogenous, as our language use leads us to believe. The uniformity implied by undifferentiated labels like German, Slovak, or Canadian is misleading. Nations are heterogeneous social entities. They are not ―ideal communities free from internal conflict and diversity, rather their members may hold differing images of how the nation should be defined and what the national project should be‖ (Guibernau 1999: 31). People can differ in their level of identification with the nation all while sharing a sense of belonging. Moreover, not all those who nominally belong to the nation need to adhere to the nationalist doctrine. Some will demand self-determination in the pursuit of statehood while others might be satisfied with autonomy or the status of cultural minority. In short, although all are likely to offer similar answers to ―who we are‖, answers to ―what we are‖ are always contested. How the nation materializes, how its political potential is realized, is an empirical question. Nationalist doctrine, from that perspective, is a political project, actively pursued and promoted by nationalists. Nationalism seeks to attain ―autonomy, unity and identity for a population which some of its members deem to constitute an actual or potential ‗nation‘‖ (Smith 2001: 9). Nationalism thus has an appellative character. Nationalist doctrine is invoked in order to convince or persuade others of the righteousness of the national cause. People are asked to ―submerge other identities, localist or universalist, in order to accept the paramount loyalty to the nation‖ (Suny 1993: 3-4). They ought to stick together, close ranks, defend, and assert themselves for what they are. That said, in order to better grasp the workings of nationalist politics a conceptual distinction is in order. Nationalist doctrine has to be distinguished from actual nationalist behavior (Keating 1996: 1). The way the nation is imagined and the political legitimacy it can bestow upon actors must be analyzed separately from nationalist politics, that is, from how nationalists appeal to the nation and motivate others to follow them in their struggle to redeem the nation. Nationalists have to spread the idea of the nation. But even if they manage to do so and the idea of the nation holds sway over people‘s minds, this is not the end of the story. Nations, once they have emerged, are not representatives was aimed, and the idea that this mission would only be realized by fostering their specific nature as a distinct ‗nation‘ and only by them‖ (my translation)] (Weber [1921/22] 2005: 677-8).

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impervious to change. The oft-mentioned process of construction is a continuous one. Although theories of nations and nationalism usually focus on the long haul, nationalism, as a matter of politics, takes place in the here and now. Nationalists not only introduce the nation; in order to reap the benefits the nation confers on those who promote it, they want to keep its flame burning. This is all the more important where the task to develop and consolidate national identity is not discharged by the state. Nationalists in nations without states have to provide content to the notion of ―who we are‖. The best means of doing this is to create or exacerbate the experience of difference – a nationally relevant conflict of interest, as Hroch called it. Physical violence either as threat or actually experienced is by far the most powerful means to create such a situation. The presence of a tangible external threat may be the strongest way to generate the sense of deep, horizontal comradeship that Anderson sees as characteristic of the national imaginary. The nation as a social and political force materializes where people find that they are threatened by being identified as members of a nation and recognize that relief and security is only to be found within the nation. There is hardly anything more powerful to inculcate people with an idea not only of ―who‖ but more importantly of ―what‖ they are than their victimization as anonymous members of a particular social category. The martial ideology stipulating that war is the best means to forge a nation has been extremely popular in the past. Taking their cues from Prussia‘s idea of the army as Schule der Nation, politicians in late nineteenth century Italy craved for a war – a ―bloody baptism‖ that would make the now-achieved territorial unity a moral one and usher in a new breed of Italians (Duggan 2008: 325-6, 345-7). Like many others after them, they saw war as harbinger of a more assertive national character. Yet, the key to forge the nation lay not so much in warfare than in an opposition perceived as existential. Violence is a means to political ends only insofar it creates antagonisms strong enough to compensate for the lack of conceptual clarity regarding the question of what makes the people into a nation. This idea had been spelled out earlier in the century by Ernst Moritz Arndt, a nationalist publicist, poet, and professor of history, who is one of the great figures of early German nationalist thought. Arndt was obsessed with Napoleonic France and the longstanding French influence in German lands. Like many of his compatriots his goal was to resuscitate the German nation. That German nation-ness was determined by a shared language – supposedly a clear-cut criteria – was not deemed sufficient to secure its survival. What it took was enmity or even hatred toward an Other. Hate, according to Arndt, is a foremost principle of life. In order for something to exist, an opposition is necessary. Among peoples, so his argument, antagonisms are causally related to essential differences in culture and are rooted in the peculiarities of a people‘s character. But much to his chagrin, he concedes that the actual level of antipathy is quite variable. The natural opposition, he sees, is not strong enough to prevent that people mingle. This, indeed, is anathema

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to Arndt since to blend distinct species is contrary to nature.28 Therefore, mutual hatred has to be fomented in order to keep populations apart. In fact, and somewhat paradoxically, Arndt‘s hate does not so much grow out of a sense of difference but has to be cultivated and emphasized in order to preserve his idea of essential incompatibility among peoples. It is functional, not inherent. Writes Arndt: Ich will denn Haß gegen die Franzosen, nicht bloß für diesen Krieg, ich will ihn für lange Zeit, ich will ihn für immer. Dann werden Teutschlands Grenzen auch ohne künstliche Wehren sicher sein, denn das Volk wird immer einen Vereinigungspunkt haben, sobald die unruhigen und räuberischen Nachbarn darüber laufen wollen ([1813]1993: 332).29 The nation‘s coherence and unity is not secured by an appeal to what nowadays we call collective identity – no, it is secured by a Manichean worldview in which the other is a permanent threat and hate-worthy for what he is. Hate, for Arndt, is above all a rallying point that erects barriers for social and cultural interaction where there is no state to do so. The precise meaning of difference, the stories told about essential incompatibilities are of secondary importance only – although Arndt, with respect to the French and given the Zeitgeist, had a lot of phony arguments in store.30 His arguments, in order to be persuasive, required facts which were to be provided by the recurrent experience of strife. After all, Arendt‘s praise of hate was driven by political considerations, that is, the war against Napoleonic occupation and the need to mobilize the masses against the occupier. He wanted to stir up chauvinism in order to shape people‘s identity as Germans and thus legitimize the goal of a unified German state. So, how does the nation come to the people? The institutionalization of nationhood by the state and the dissemination of the idea of the nation through mass education and conscription are certainly the dominant modes of transmission. Violence underwrites that process. War makes nations in that it provides for collective experiences of hardship and suffering but also glory and heroism in the face of great peril – the main ingredients of the national imaginary. However, where the institutions to inculcate people the nation‘s gospel are altogether absent, insufficiently developed, or not even geared at doing so, a space for dissident narratives opens up. Oppositional nationalisms emerge where conflicts over the distribution of goods and status along ethnic lines are politicized to the point of challenging the institutional order provided by the state. Under these circumstances, what ultimately drives people apart is not cultural difference per se; it is the lived experience of Arndt‘s ideas were provoked by the many Francophiles among his compatriots. Hence, for him the most abysmal situation is reached when the natural opposition vanishes to the point of making one people aspire to imitate another. Mimetism of any kind, he argues, betrays its authenticity, the source of its pride and real strength. It leads straight into serfdom. 28

―I want hatred against the French, not only for the duration of this war but for a long time, forever. Then, even without artificial fortifications, the borders of Germany will be protected because its people will always have a rallying point for when their restless and predatory neighbors will try to march over them‖ (my translation). 29

It is ironic to find that Arndt qualifies his chauvinism cautioning that the world is inhabited by countless peoples, each with its own character and culture, all willed by God and therefore with a right to an autonomous existence. 30

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violence and fear of victimization which exacerbates conflict and foments distrust and hatred, making living together unfeasible. My arguments, in a nutshell, are the following: First, the idea of the nation as yardstick for political legitimacy ushered in a new mode of political competition that transformed the very concept of the nation. During the nineteenth century nationalism emerged as foremost oppositional force. Introducing the ethnically defined nation, it claimed legitimacy against states and, above all, empires. The principle of self-determination increased its power. In spite of attempts to contain its subversive nature, the nation, as conceived of by nationalists, still represents a popular model. Second, the nation – whether ethnic or not – is a continuous process of construction, or for that matter reconstruction. As an oppositional force nationalism makes nations. Nationalism is a political endeavor undertaken by a minority of activists. They seek to make people behave according to the nationalist doctrine and thus transform their identity. They not only try to impose their definition of who the people are, but what they are. Absent a state the nation can call its own, violence and the existential experience it provides substitute for the role institutions play in shaping it. These ideas inform my theoretical framework to which I will return at the end of this part. Before getting there, a closer look at three concepts mentioned above is in order, namely, legitimacy, identity, and violence. All three will be discussed in context of the phenomenon of nation and nationalism.

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CHAPTER ONE: LEGITIMACY & NATIONALISM

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Introduction Legitimacy is central to oppositional nationalist politics. Lacking the institutional capacity of the state, militant nationalists have to rely on the normative appeal of their struggle. Legitimacy constitutes a meta-resource which helps to offset the state‘s overwhelming power. While for the state legitimacy determines the effectiveness of its institutional capacity, for the nationalist opposition it determines the success of its efforts to mobilize people, eases access to material resources, and secures political support from third parties. Political legitimacy, in short, allows the opposition to extract a range of vital resources for the political struggle, material and non-material alike. Legitimacy is crucial for militant nationalists waging an armed struggle. Dedicated fighters and logistical aide from the population on the ground, arms and money transfers from abroad channeled by diaspora communities, international support by lobby groups or even states – all that can be expected when political legitimacy is successfully claimed. In fact, legitimacy is decisive. As Tejerina, in a study on the Basque ETA, remarks: ―insurgent groups … that do not manage to cross the threshold of legitimacy … among the members of the collective whose interests they claim to defend, or in whose name they claim to act, end up by disappearing‖ (2001: 40). Legitimately claiming to represent a people strengthens the nationalists‘ stand against the governments and raises their standing in the eyes of the international community. The legitimacy nationalists come to enjoy has an internal and an external component. Internal legitimacy refers to the legitimacy of the nationalist project within the militants‘ constituency and addresses the question of whether or not they emerge as its legitimate representatives. External legitimacy, by contrast, refers to the recognition by third parties, usually members of the international community. Do they accept the claim to a right to self-determination and interact with those representing the nation? As I am arguing here, nationalist violence is instrumental in order to harness the power of legitimation against the legitimacy of power that underpins the status quo. In the twin process of delegitimation and legitimation, which nationalists try to manipulate and control, the intentional escalation of violence has an important role to play. Whereas the state can respond to a legitimacy deficit by having recourse to coercion in order to suppress challenges to its legitimacy, the opposition is limited in its means to inflict material damage and physical harm and has to build legitimacy from the scratch. How does legitimacy move over to militant nationalists?

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Nationalist politics aim at wresting legitimacy from the state. Legitimacy is a zero-sum game: legitimation of the nationalist opposition is contingent on a prior delegitimation of the state. The process is captured in table 1. I assume that under the status quo the state is legitimate while the opposition is lacking legitimacy. People‘s perceptions under the status quo thus run along the diagonal axis I; III. When the opposition gains legitimacy to the detriment of the state, the perceptions will eventually run along the diagonal axis II; IV. Legitimacy Yes No

State I IV

Opposition II III

Table 1: Process of Delegitimation and Legitimation

Before proceeding, two preliminary remarks are to be made. First, political legitimacy is located on different levels, and struggles over legitimacy on these levels have different consequences for the state as such. Walker Connor suggests that we should distinguish between three categories of legitimacy: (1) regime-legitimacy refers to the propriety or rightfulness of the rule of a particular individual, clique, or administration. (2) government-legitimacy is associated with a particular form of government and with its corresponding ideology and institutions, regardless of the individuals who momentarily occupy its key positions. (3) state-legitimacy, the broadest of these categories, is concerned with the justification of the political unit itself, rather than with either individuals or governments. (2002: 27).31 Whereas Connor‘s regime-legitimacy is about rulers‘ conformity or compliance with rules of how power in society is distributed, government-legitimacy and state-legitimacy depend on the validity of these rules. The causes of delegitimation vary accordingly and – this is important – a challenge on one level does not necessarily imply a challenge on the next higher one. Questioning the ruler does not invalidate the form of government nor do challenges to both jeopardize the unity of the state. Yet, the reverse is true. Where the regime‘s legitimacy is under attack, we will witness impeachment procedures, votes of no confidence or socalled palace revolutions. Where the form of government is under attack, political revolutions take place with the goal to overhaul the whole system. The state‘s legitimacy as a whole is at stake when secessionist movements arise demanding self-determination (Connor 2002: 28). The focus of the present work lies on what Connor terms state-legitimacy. Nationalist doctrine points to a legitimacy deficit which nationalist militants will try to exploit in order to delegitimize the state. A regime, for instance, might be considered legitimate insofar as those in power have obtained their position in accordance with extant rules that govern the access to power. These very rules may, however, be criticized for I would inverse the notions of regime and government here, but for the sake of consistency with the original, I keep Connor‘s wording. 31

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contradicting the basic justifying principle accruing from nationalist doctrine, namely, that only like should rule over like. Such a legitimacy deficit constitutes a wedge which the nationalist opposition will try to exploit in its struggle against the state. In nationalist conflicts armed militants provoke the government into repressive actions that are considered illegitimate and result in the delegitimation of the state as its fundamental legitimacy deficit is laid bare. I begin by discussing the concept of political legitimacy. Contrasting the state‘s need to legitimize its power with the role of legitimacy as an oppositional force, I settle for a rule-based approach that highlights, among other things, the role of values and beliefs in determining the legitimacy of a given order. Then, I turn to the concept of the nation, an idea pivotal to modern claims to legitimacy. Nationalism, as a theory of political legitimacy, was elevated by the principle of self-determination to a foremost mode of oppositional struggle. It undercuts the legitimacy of the state by providing a normative standard that goes deeper than the legality of rule or regime type. Invoking the nation against the state represents a fundamental challenge to the status quo.

I) THE CONCEPT OF LEGITIMACY Legitimacy is a vexing yet crucial notion in political science. When we talk about the legitimacy of a social order, we talk about the legitimacy of the power relations that constitute that order. Legitimacy, understood in this way, is political legitimacy since it deals with systems of rule and domination. Analysts who have recourse to the concept of legitimacy try to grasp that unquantifiable ingredient of power established by mutually accepted and binding obligations and entitlements among members of a given society. Legitimacy, understood that way, is akin to a sense of public morality. The concept of legitimacy owes its prominence to the fact that any social order requires normative justification. Legitimacy helps to consolidate a given social order by smoothing its inner workings. Domination needs to be legitimized, but legitimacy acquires a power of its own in hierarchical relations – a fact that tends to be underestimated. The differential power relations structuring any social order are always subject to normative evaluations, that is, the juxtaposition of ought and is. And these cannot be entirely controlled by those in power. Legitimacy thus is not limited to the legitimation of the powers that are. Legitimacy, as I argue here, can turn into an oppositional force when it threatens a social order with delegitimation. The charge of illegitimacy can offset the effectiveness of power relations; at least it diminishes their efficiency. It is no surprise then that Barker finds that the identification of the conditions which ―justify government and require obedience has always been at the centre of political enquiry‖ (1990: 4). 35

1) LEGITIMATION OF POWER & THE POWER OF LEGITIMACY A social order cannot be built on coercion alone. Power without consent is perceived as a state of tyranny and thus viewed as illegitimate. Indeed, human collectivities do not work according to the proverbial law of the jungle – something John Locke grasped better than Thomas Hobbes.32 The powers that are seek normative support. ―[E]mperors may be nude, but they do not like to be so, to think themselves so, or to be so regarded‖ (Claude 1966: 368). Every social order requires a mix of coercion and consent lest it falls apart. As Rousseau warned: ―Le plus fort n‘est jamais assez fort pour être toujours le maître s‘il ne transforme sa force en droit et l‘obéissance en devoir‖ ([1791] 2005: 132).33 Whereas the transformation of force into right points to the concept of legality, it is the latter element, the duty to obey, that interests us here. Max Weber conceptualized legitimacy as a belief (Legitimitätsglaube). He contends that every system of authority seeks ―den Glauben an ihre ‗Legitimität‘ zu erwecken und zu pflegen‖ (Weber [1921/22] 2005: 157).34 Because of Weber legitimacy is widely regarded as a belief in legitimacy.35 Institutions or regimes are considered legitimate when people believe in their legitimacy. Legitimacy, Barker argues, ―is a fiction, a metaphor which we employ to describe circumstances where people accept the claims made by rulers‖ (1990: 19). Yet, conceptualizing legitimacy as belief does not explain why people come to hold such beliefs. This, however, did not bother Weber who appears to have been more interested in types of legitimacy than in the process of legitimation.36

Even Hobbes‘s almighty Leviathan, the theoretical embodiment of the absolutist monarch, cannot dispose of the lives of his subjects at will and is responsible before God. 32

―The stronger is never strong enough to be master forever, unless he transforms his force into right and obedience into duty‖ (my translation). 33

34

―…to establish and to cultivate the belief in its ‗legitimacy‘‖ (my translation)

As to the state, he famously defined it as a ―menschliche Gemeinschaft, welche innerhalb eines bestimmten Gebiets … das Monopol legitimer physischer Gewaltsamkeit für sich (mit Erfolg) beansprucht [a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly of the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory]‖ (Weber [1921/22] 2005: 1043). The Weberian state is defined as the institution which, with more or less success, not only claims the monopoly of physical force but also claims that this monopoly is a legitimate one. Without this double claim there would be no state! But the point is that it is this double claim that defines the state, not the fact of legitimacy. In spite of this dynamic component in the definition – and this is why Weber‘s approach lends to confusion – legitimacy remains a conceptual notion, not a causal one. 35

Weber identifies three ideal types of legitimacy that characterize the relations between rulers and subjects, namely, traditional authority based on ancient rights, charismatic domination by an individual endowed with a special gift appealing to the masses, and, last but not least, the impersonal rule of legal statutes whose agent is the modern bureaucrat (see, e.g., Weber [1921/22] 2005: 1043-5). But how people come to believe that either of the three, tradition, charisma, or bureaucratic rules and procedures establishes a legitimate authority? Weber had not much to say on this point. 36

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Insofar legitimacy, or for that matter the belief in legitimacy, is based on a mix of coercion and consent, it is possible to trace it back to self-interest. The legitimacy of a given social order may be entirely rational. From that perspective, government performance is key to the production of legitimacy since it outweighs the costs of coercion. The ―principal substantive determinants‖ of legitimacy according to Hechter ―are the effectiveness of a regime‘s provision of public goods‖ – chief among them are education, public health, security, and utilities (2009: 287). Disparities in individual benefits accruing from particular government policies are made acceptable by stable and transparent procedures for how power is distributed. As Hechter puts it: ―It is obvious that winners are likely to support regimes that enact policies that favor them. Losers also continue to grant legitimacy to the government when they believe that their interests might be favored in subsequent elections‖ (2009: 287). Regimes that fail to efficiently provide public goods and are everything but fair in their workings secure support through the use of ideology, that is, ―symbolic scripts and techniques of mass persuasion‖ (Hechter 2009: 287-8). From this perspective, legitimacy looks like a mere derivative of power rather than as a source of it – a veneer that can make any order appear as just.37 Such a view conflicts with the fact that people frequently challenge the social, economic, and political status quo. On what basis can one possibly find that things should not be as they are if the state is overbearing? What costs outweigh which benefits so as to produce open dissent? The problem with Hechter‘s rationalist approach is that it underestimates the autonomous character of normative judgments. Public morality cannot be entirely determined by the state. Attempts to manufacture consent are limited by standards that are beyond the state‘s purview. Ideas of the good are autonomous. Whatever role rational calculation plays in our behavior, much of it is justified in terms of moral obligations and shared commitments that are independent of the state. As Beetham reminds us, human beings are ―rational moral agents seeking to ensure that their social relations and arrangements meet their needs and conform to their moral sense‖ (1991: 22, my emphasis). In fact, we are loath to think of our actions as mere products of blunt opportunism or even manipulation. The normative judgments that establish the legitimacy or illegitimacy of a given social order result from a comparison of an is with an ought. Whereas we encounter the is as an imposed state of affairs, the autonomy of notions about what should be precludes that both become indistinguishable. Hence, legitimacy turns out to be a source of power in its own right. Whereas a rational calculus may explain support for a given order, to equate legitimacy with stability or efficiency is to confuse legitimacy with the effects it produces (Beetham 1991: 38). The normative evaluation of the legitimacy of an order ultimately draws on standards which cannot

37

And it is no surprise to find that outstanding students of the state, like Charles Tilly (1985), seems to assume just that.

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be reduced to a rational choice.38 This, I argue, allows oppositional forces to challenge the legitimacy of the powers that are. The struggle for legitimacy is central to politics. Writes Claude: ―Politics is not merely a struggle for power but also a contest over legitimacy, a competition in which the conferment or denial, the confirmation or revocation, of legitimacy is an important stake‖ (1966: 367-8). Attacks on the social order that denounce it as illegitimate by reference to a specific concept of legitimacy clash with attempts by the forces of the status quo to legitimize the extant power relations. Whereas the defenders of the status quo benefit from the normative power of the factual, the opposition‘s charge of illegitimacy stresses normative standards which support its competing claims to legitimacy. Where do these standards come from? How are they activated? The legitimacy of a given order is usually assessed by either of two methods: by reference to abstract universal criteria or through inquiry among those concerned. The search for universally valid criteria of the good is the domain of the philosopher (see Barker 1990: 11). Through abstract reflection and intellectual insight she formulates objective standards by which she claims to be in a position to judge the legitimacy of a given regime.39 The philosopher‘s approach, however, fails to explain why people seem to accord legitimacy to a social order that does not deserve it. By contrast, asking people whether or not they consider the regimes under which they live legitimate is tricky. The meaning of the word legitimacy differs across societies and questions used to proxy a scientific definition risk missing the point (but Gilley 2006; 2006a).40 The primary task of a social scientific inquiry into the phenomenon of legitimacy is to elucidate the interplay of norms and behavior. It should investigate the effect of normative judgments on the character of a given relationship of power (Beetham 1991: 25). An empirical approach to legitimacy thus seeks ―to explain why or when people do obey, respect, or show allegiance to a particular government, regime, state, policy, or

38

A golden prison is still a prison, after all.

So-called prescriptive theories of legitimacy are part and parcel of the age-old endeavor to elucidate the reasons for why people ought to respect the social order and obey its rulers. They answer the question of the good order and have varied over time as, for instance, Platon‘s Politeia shows us. For such a perspective see, e.g., Buchanan (2002) and Copp (1999). 39

Surveys are often used, but when a person states that he or she does not have confidence in a political institution, this is not necessarily a good measure of lack of political legitimacy. There are many reasons why people might have la low confidence in the state and its institutions. Healthy skepticism, dislike of the current rulers – but not of the system, frustration over specific policies, etc. 40

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institution. Or, conversely, why or when do they revolt, disobey, or act disloyally‖ (Ansell 2001: 8704)? It is about social processes where legitimacy is debated.41

2) A RULE-BASED APPROACH TO LEGITIMACY Beetham‘s seminal work on the structure of legitimacy sets off from the realization that any social order and thus all power relations are governed by rules which are public domain but cannot be reduced to the legal code. Beetham claims that power is called legitimate – or rightful – where it is ―acquired and exercised according to justifiable rules and with evidence of consent‖ (1991: 3, my emphasis).42 The idea is that ―in any rule-governed social order the existence and acquisition of power cannot be separated from the normative expectations and entitlements by reference to which its possession is also justified‖ (1991: 65). If the rules for how power is distributed in society are both, justifiable and obeyed, legitimacy should be observable in acts signaling consent. In order to understand Beethham‘s take on legitimacy, we have to make a detour via the notion of rules and their role in societal relations. The existence of rules known to all is crucial for society in order to function. Writes Beetham: ―Without rules we could make no plans for the future, or entertain any projects beyond the merest hand-to-mouth survival‖ (1991: 65). It is only in the presence of social rules ―that we are able to predict the behaviour of others, and introduce any settled expectations into our lives‖ (Beetham 1991: 65). Social rules make the world around us predictable because of their normative and prescriptive force. The concept of social order is based on ―rules of power‖ (Beetham 1991: 50). These rules are either specified in legal codes or agreed by convention and govern the ―exclusion from and access to key resources, activities and positions of command‖ (1991: 63). Rules of power thus constitute and sustain the dominant position of some compared to

The empirical approach thus can cope with situation where people do obey rulers and comply with rules although for the philosopher they do not have a moral obligation to do so since the regime is illegitimate by external standards. In other words, the empirical approach to legitimacy is sensitive to the fact that interests mediate the effect that normative standards have on our behavior. 41

People prefer a rule-governed social order to anarchy and even more so when such an order can be justified by reference to some universal principles. Similarly, known ways for how things are done are usually preferred to the new. People, in other words, are rather conservative. Until the idea of progress and human perfectibility held sway over the brightest minds in the Enlightenment period, those we would nowadays call ―revolutionaries‖ were first and foremost concerned with re-establishing the old order of things rather than ushering in a new age. This, as Hannah Arendt has argued, was something that changed with the American and French Revolutions. Particularly in the wake of 1789 the idea of revolution as a tabula rasa became prominent. 42

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others who are in a subordinate position.43 Hierarchical relationships are perceived as just and appropriate as long as they conform to rules considered valid. The concept of rules opens a new perspective on the question of legitimacy since it helps to specify its structure. The structure of legitimacy, according to a rule-based perspective, is threefold. First, the rules that establish power relations have to be perceived as valid in order for power differentials to be considered legitimate. Second, the validity of these rules depends on their justification by reference to larger normative principles which are shared by all members of society. Finally, acts of obedience, compliance, or cooperation make power rules self-enforcing. Legitimacy, understood that way, is more than just a belief in legitimacy since people have good reasons to accord legitimacy to a social order – self-interest alone cannot account for legitimacy. Let us take a closer look at the three dimensions. First, relations of power in society are legitimate when the acquisition and exercise of power follows rules which are considered valid. These rules allow some to monopolize power to the detriment of others. They make explicit what and who qualifies for leadership positions. Rules of power are usually enshrined into the legal system but cannot be reduced to it.44 Particularly in the exercise of power, unwritten standards of what is appropriate in relations between rulers and ruled do apply. Second, these rules need to be justified in terms of the beliefs and values current in a given society. The given power rules must provide that ―those who come to hold power have the qualities appropriate to its exercise; and the structure of power must be seen to serve a recognisably general interest, rather than simply the interests of the powerful‖ (Beetham 1991: 17). The specific content of these concepts of qualification and general interest are inspired and based on authoritative sources which are external to the life of the polity. They reflect notions of the good and have a philosophical character. Third, there has to be evidence of consent in the form of actions expressing the legitimacy accorded to a given social order (Beetham 1991: 12-3). What is needed in order to speak of legitimacy is a ―demonstrable expression of consent on the part of the subordinate to the particular power relation in which they are involved‖ (1991: 18). Acts of compliance, obedience, and deference have a performative quality and so do acts signaling

Rules of power, in short, assign and confirm the validity of different positions on the social ladder by specifying mutually accepted entitlements and obligations. 43

44

Those in power and making the law tend to attribute a moral quality to it in order to legitimize their position.

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dissent. The threefold structure of legitimacy can be simplified into three concise propositions. Power is legitimate when… a) it conforms to established rules b) the rules can be justified by reference to beliefs shared by both the dominant and the subordinate, and c) there is evidence of consent by the subordinate to the particular power relation. The legitimacy of a given order thus is based on ―the degree of congruence, or lack of it, between a given system of power and the beliefs, values and expectations that provide its justification‖ (Beetham 1991: 11). The exercise of power in violation of extant rules makes it illegitimate, contradiction between the rules and their justifying principles constituted a deficit in legitimacy and acts of dissent are a sign of delegitimation. Accordingly, legitimacy is better understood as the continuous process of legitimation and delegitimation since it can be ―eroded, contested or incomplete‖ (Beetham 1991: 20). Beetham‘s approach has certain advantages for the empirical study of legitimacy. First, in order to establish whether power in society is legitimate the observer has not to rely on people‘s opinion about legitimacy or on abstract universal criteria. Instead, his take focuses on the legality of government action, normative standards that pertain within society, and observable behavior by those judging the legitimacy of the current order. The threefold structure of legitimacy suggests that the following questions should suffice to establish whether or not it is legitimate: ―Is power valid in terms of the law? Is the law justifiable in terms of beliefs and values established in the society? Is there demonstrable evidence of consent to the given relations of power‖ (Beetham 1991: 13)? Unlawful action of the powerful and/or ideas challenging their very position will shatter the legitimacy of the status quo when they provoke open dissent. Second, Beetham‘s approach highlights the importance of concrete action in analyzing legitimacy. He argues that ―actions have a publicly symbolic and declaratory force, in that they constitute and express acknowledgment on the part of the subordinate of the position of the powerful‖ (Beetham 1991: 18). They can contribute to legitimacy in two ways. For one, actions signaling consent ―have a subjectively binding force for those who have taken part in them, regardless of the motives for which they have done so‖ (Beetham 1991: 81). What is more, they can be used by those in power as confirmation of their legitimacy to third parties. By the same token, however, action can indicate delegitimation: ―Actions ranging from non-cooperation and passive resistance to open disobedience and militant opposition on the part of those qualified to give consent will … erode legitimacy‖ (Beetham 1991: 19). This, of course, will also have an external dimension since it sends the signal to third parties that legitimacy is shifting away from the state.

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How can Beetham‘s approach inform the study of nationalism and political violence? Nationalist doctrine is a matter of belief and accords supreme value to the nation as embodiment of the sovereign people. As theory of legitimacy it demands rule by like over like in the name of the principle of self-determination. It thus challenges the extant structure of rules in toto. States facing a nationalist movement suffer from a legitimacy deficit. A nationalist opposition that seeks to wrest legitimacy from the state therefore employs violence in order to provoke overreactions by the security forces which its constituency will consider against the rules. Government actions which are perceived as illegitimate thus highlight the underlying legitimacy deficit of the state. The escalation of violence entails the delegitimation of the state when people begin to mobilize for the nationalist cause in an open display of dissent. Throughout this process, militant nationalists will establish a new legitimacy. Nationalist doctrine is at the heart of the struggle for political legitimacy. It challenges the status quo in its entirety by projecting a new polity. I will show that, whereas the nation is foundational for the modern understanding of political legitimacy, nationalism made it into a subversive force. Popular sovereignty materialized in the nation but proved to be a Janus-faced concept: For the state it secured popular loyalty but in the form of nationalism turned against it. The debate about the notion of self-determination will illustrate that.

II) NATIONALISM & THE STRUGGLE FOR LEGITIMACY How does nationalism help to tap the power of legitimacy? How does it help to make legitimacy shift to the opposition? The concept of the ―nation-state‖ suggests that each state stands for a single nation. Whatever the polity‘s actual sense of belonging together, the notions of ―state‖ and ―nation‖ are regularly used interchangeably. The institutional infrastructure of the state exists for and because of the nation it embodies, so the underlying assumption. Its raison d‘être is the nation. Conversely, the state should ―be dyed by a nation‘s colour and designate the ‗people‘ in whose name it rules over its territory‖ (Wimmer 1997: 634). Hence, nation and state have to coincide with one another in order for the latter to be legitimate. As Geertz argued: ―For a state to do more than administer privilege and defend itself against its own population, its acts must seem continuous with the selves of those whose state it pretends it is‖ (1973: 317). This has not always been that way. It was only in the wake of the advent of the idea of popular sovereignty that the concept of the nation, as we know it today, emerged. The modern idea of the nation proved revolutionary. Initially adopted in order to put existing structures of rule on a new and firmer footing, the prominence of ethnocultural differences as diacritical markers defining the

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nation changed the political landscape. Nationalism carried the message that any culturally distinct people with a land to call its own is entitled to a separate state. The ethnic demography of a given territory thus entered the political equation, with tremendous consequences. Indeed, the significance of nationalism as a theory of political legitimacy can hardly be underestimated. Years ago Inis Claude suggested that there is ―a tendency for a single concept of legitimacy to become generally dominant in a particular era, to achieve widespread acceptance as the decisive standard‖ (1966: 369). In modern times the determinant for political legitimacy is the principle of popular sovereignty which has ushered in the concept of self-determination, nowadays a global normative standard. The people, constituted as a nation, turned from an anonymous mass into the subject of history. But the ethnicization of the concept of the nation transformed the emancipatory thrust of self-determination and made it subversive. But how did this idea come about in the first place? In order to answer these questions we need, first, to understand how nationalism changed the conditions for political legitimacy on a global scale. Therefore I will retrace the development from the advent of the idea of popular sovereignty to an ethnocultural understanding of the nation which draws its power from the hegemonic concept of the nation-state. A look at the legal concept of national self-determination will help us to better grasp the normative horizon under which nationalism could thrive.

1) POPULAR SOVEREIGNTY: FROM NATION TO NATIONALISM The idea of popular sovereignty is said to have been around for quite a while before it came to prominence in the late eighteenth century.45 Until then theories of political legitimacy were not concerned with those who were actually ruled. ―The masses,‖ writes Connor, ―were solely the object, not the source of political authority‖ (2002: 29). The sources of legitimate rule were to be found elsewhere. The right to rule derived ―from the gods (divine right)‖ and was variously defended ―as a prerogative of royal blood, as the spoils of conquest, as a hereditary legacy, as a fidelity owed because of protection and/or other services rendered (feudalism), as flowing from the possession of the title to the property inhabited by the subjects, or as a combination of any of these‖ (Connor 2002: 29). The sovereign realms of the Kings constituted their patrimony and as such they cared for it with minimum concern for their subjects. Things began to change from the mid-eighteenth century onward. In Europe and the Americas the bourgeoisie and disgruntled members of the aristocracy faced up to what they perceived as the despotism of the absolutist state. Over the years monarchies had gradually emancipated Connor mentions that already in the thirteenth century ―[g]overnment based on the consent of the governed‖ was ―a favorite‖ of philosophers but it lacked practitioners (2002: 30). 45

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themselves from the strictures imposed by the web of personal bonds that had been the hallmark of their medieval predecessors.46 But by bringing the unruly nobility to heel, Absolutism helped to create a more unified opposition to the state. What looked like another round in the everlasting struggle among the powerful gained a revolutionary quality as the contenders seized upon contemporary ideas to make their point. ―A central resource for all sides,‖ according to Bukovansky, ―was the complex and diverse body of discourse known as Enlightenment thought‖ (2009: 3). Its embrace of human freedom and the firm belief in individual autonomy changed the perspective on legitimate rule. Bloodlines and divine sanction began to lose their appeal. The terms of legitimate political authority were transformed by enlightenment discourse. A new template for political legitimacy emerged, grounded in the notion of popular sovereignty – an idea vigorously defended by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. In the wake of the American and French revolutions, sovereignty, formerly lodged in monarchs, went over to the people. The people turned into the ultimate source of political legitimacy. As Claude puts it, the ―era of modern European politics was ushered in by the substitution of the Voice of the People for the Voice of God‖ (1966: 369). State power now derived from the people‘s sovereign will. But the idea of popular sovereignty inevitably raised the question as to the identity of the polity. Who were the sovereign people? When Louis XIV‘s famous utterance l‟Etat c‟est moi became l‟Etat c‟est nous, the nous stood for the nation (Connor 2002: 30).47 It was the advent of the modern concept of the nation. The nation, a notion coming from the Latin nasci (natus sum) – to be born or to originate from – had been loosely used since the fourteenth century to indicate common origins (Kluge 2002; also Hobsbawm 1990: 148). In seventeenth century Britain and later in France it designated those politically active, that is, those preeminent in society or, in a modern rendering, the elite (Greenfeld 1993). To christen the sovereign people a nation implied a new status. The people ought no longer to be considered an amorphous populace. The most notable event in that regard took place on the eve of the French Revolution, in June 1789. The EstatesGeneral, gathered in Versailles, transformed itself under the leadership of the Third Estate from représentants As the absolutist states ―extended their authority over their subjects and diminished that of other institutions such as churches, estates and guilds, and as they came into increasing and more intensive conflict with one another, so they took on the character of nation-states‖ (Breuilly 1982: 44-5). The state‘s emancipation from social forces abstracted power from personal relations on which feudal society was built. At the same time, the state increased its penetration of society by controlling and organizing it through a burgeoning bureaucracy. ―As the state intervened more and more in the affairs of its subjects, so, paradoxically, did it come to appear more detached from them.‖ While it seemed to acquire a life of its own, it was ―less and less a distant, almost another world which had little to do with those it notionally controlled. Indeed, its control came closer and closer.‖ This resulted, among other things, in the now well-established separation between the distinct yet complementary concepts of state and civil society. Eventually ―society ceased to be regarded as a fragmented cluster of private interests unified only by the state above it but was seen rather as a unity whose essence was expressed in the concept of the nation and which should then shape the state‖ (Breuilly 1982: 50-2). 46

47

Louis XIV apparently never uttered this phrase.

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du peuple français into an assemblée nationale with authority equal to the King (see also Meinecke [1907] 1962: 29). The self-declared French nation was to make history. The Déclaration des droits de l‟homme et du citoyen voted in August 1789 stated that sovereignty resided exclusively in the nation. Defined as a political association its foremost aim, as declared in article two, was the preservation of individual rights. Thus people were made into a nation by virtue of the law. As Sieyès had explained earlier: ―Qu‘est-ce qu‘une Nation ? un corps d‘Associés vivant sous une loi commune et représentés par la même législature, etc ― ([1788] 1822: 28, his emphasis). What later became known as the civic nation was born. Such a legal concept of the nation, however, required a unified jurisdiction – a state capable of imposing and enforcing the law. The conditions were present in France where Absolutism had consolidated a territorial state but elsewhere things looked different. Across the Rhine a similar institutional framework was lacking. In the early nineteenth century intellectuals there struggled to define the sovereign people in order to resist the Napoleonic onslaught and push for political reforms in what was a patchwork of principalities. To that end they turned to early scholarship on culture and language produced, among others, by Gottfried Herder. The somewhat obscure idea of a German nation thus gained traction. Unable to constitute the nation by legal fiat as in France, in German lands it became determined by the novel concept of peoplehood. The nation was constituted by the people, the Volk, defined by a distinct culture, the medium of which was the German language. In 1813, a famous poem by Ernst Moritz Arndt answered the question for where the German homeland was by reference to the spoken language: Was ist des Deutschen Vaterland? So nenne endlich mir das Land! So weit die deutsche Zunge klingt und Gott im Himmel Lieder singt: Das soll es sein! Das soll es sein! Das wackrer Deutscher, nenne dein!48 Language was defining the nation, not political boundaries. It was another German intellectual of that time, Johann Gottlieb Fichte who, in the spirit of romanticism, elevated the Volk-as-nation to a spiritual entity. In his Reden an die deutsche Nation he projects the cultural community as a timeless whole and presents German as an unsullied and therefore authentic culture. Elaborating on ideas put forward by Herder, Fichte ([1806] 48

What is the German‟s Fatherland? At least tell me where it is! As far as sounds the German tongue and God in heaven sings his songs: That it should be! That it should be! That, brave German, I call yours! (my translation)

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1992) conceives of cultural particularism as a God-given principle on which the very existence of humanity is predicated. Through membership in the Volk and immersion in its culture, the individual has access to both the world of the living and the dead. Partaking in the culture of a Volk, by way of its language, makes one‘s existence meaningful and holds the promise of eternity since the community lives on. Therefore, the destiny of the Volk, its earthly mission, warrants individual sacrifice. This sacralization of the Volk-as-nation was a response to doubts the Enlightenment had raised about heavenly salvation.49 But Fichte‘s Volk was more than the embodiment of a transcendental principle. As an organic entity it had to assert itself on earth. The nationalists had to realize God‘s will by liberating the nation. In the case of the German Volk this was imperative since Germans were portrayed as an outstanding example of cultural purity amidst peoples who had lost their authenticity. Thus, the talk about the spiritual nature of the nation was instrumental for the secular mission of nationalism. For all their intellectual depths, German nationalist thinkers had a clear political agenda: a unified state. That the freedom of the nation was to be gained against others nurtured illiberal tendencies and resulted in chauvinism and xenophobia. Nineteenth century nationalism transformed the civic nation of the French Revolution. The empirical reality of a culturally defined people grounded, so to say, Sieyès‘s abstract legalist understanding of the nation. That culture was seen as inherited and given rather than adopted gave it an ethnic dimension, and ancestry and descent replaced legal status in determining membership.50 Meanwhile, the elevation of the nation to a spiritual principle could motivate those very people that nationalist ideology likened to a family to work for a common goal. Nationalism thus made the nation tangible, but, at the same, time it established it as a metaphysical phenomenon. In conceptual terms, it departed from the rationalism of the Déclarations of 1789 in that it simultaneously reached up and down.

Enlightenment shattered metaphysical certainties by provoking by the divorce of reason and religion. But as Anderson finds, ―With the ebbing of religious belief, the suffering which belief in part composed [with] did not disappear. … What then was required was a secular transformation of fatality into continuity, contingency into meaning‖ (1991: 11, my emphasis). Fichte found this in the idea of the people, the Volk. 49

Contributing to this was the newly emerging concept of race. According to Hobsbawm, the concept of ―race‖ was transformed in the second half of the nineteenth century: ―On the one hand the old established division of mankind into a few ‗races‘ distinguished by skin color was now elaborated into a set of ‗racial‘ distinctions separating peoples of approximately the same pale skin, such as ‗Aryans‘ and ‗Semites‘ … On the other Darwinian evolutionism, supplemented later by what came to be known as genetics, provided racism with what looked like a powerful set of ‗scientific‘ reasons for keeping out or even … expelling and murdering strangers‖ (1990: 108). The use of ―race‖ came to be confused with language and religion and led to first attempts to purge foreign elements from vernaculars whose defense gave many nationalist movements a program. Additionally, ―race‖ and ―nation‖ now were used as concepts under which one could propose gross generalizations about the ―character‖ of whole populations and why they could not go along. 50

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In the course of the nineteenth century nationalism emerged as a dominant political ideology, and the nation turned into a secular religion.51 All over Europe intellectuals assimilated its doctrine and spread its ideas among the populations.52 In the name of the people‘s pursuit of unity, independence, and freedom, nationalism became the most common mode of collective action. Its intellectual appeal and the forces it seemed to unleash made it immensely influential – and threatening. Whereas under Restoration it inspired democratic movements across Europe, its revolutionary thrust made it suspect in the eyes of the architects of national unification in Germany and Italy, Bismarck and Cavour respectively. Although the state was to benefit from the integrative force of the nation, nationalism could also bring disintegration and destruction. Its Janus-faced nature is reflected in the seminal contributions to the debate on the nation by John Stuart Mill and Ernest Renan. Mill dedicated a whole chapter of his Considerations on Representative Government, first published in 1861, to the question of ―nationality‖.53 According to him, representative government, that is, the principle that ―the question of government ought to be decided by the governed‖ requires that ―all members of the nationality‖ should be united ―under the same government, and a government to themselves apart‖ ([1861] 1977: 547). Why is this? Answers Mill: ―Among a people without fellow-feeling, especially if they read and speak different languages, the united public opinion, necessary to the working of representative government, cannot exist‖ ([1861] 1977: 547). Democracy, to use a terminology Mill eschews, demands that a population is willing to live together, can communicate and is ready to compromise should conflicts arise. This is only given to nationalities. Individuals constituting a nationality ―are united among themselves by common sympathies, which do not exist between them and any others—which make them co-operate with each other more willingly than with other people‖ ([1861] 1977: 546). But this fellow feeling does not come out of thin air; rather, it is the result of an

On the nation as secular religion, see Hayes (1960). The ubiquitous cenotaphs or tombs of the Unknown Soldier are the shrines of the nation. The message they confer are all the same: There something about the nation that holds the promise of immortality, something that religion once provided but which has been lost in modern times. In the age of secularization, the unsettled relation between the living and the dead has been patched by the modern nation which offers a sense of transcendence. 51

First among them was Giuseppe Mazzini, the figurehead of Italian nationalism, who, looking back at the early 1830s was to write: I saw regenerate Italy becoming at one bound the missionary of a religion of progress and fraternity… Why should not a new Rome, the Rome of the Italian people … arise to create a third and still vaster Unity; to link together and harmonize earth and heaven, right and duty; and utter, not to individuals but to peoples, the great word Association – to make known to free men and equal their mission here below? (re-quoted in Duggan 2008: 128). 52

53

The events in Italy and the ongoing struggle over German lands inspired him, as he himself admits.

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amalgamation of different factors, as Mill finds. Common descent, community of language, religion, and habitat matter but ―the strongest of all is identity of political antecedents; the possession of a national history, and consequent community of recollections; collective pride and humiliation, pleasure and regret, connected with the same incidents in the past‖ ([1861] 1977: 546). In fact, a people manifests its nationality by the ―desire to be under the same government, and [the] desire that it should be government by themselves or a portion of themselves, exclusively‖ ([1861] 1977: 546). Nationality, in other words, seeks representative government and, at the same time, is its very condition. While members of a nationality should be united under a single roof, forcing different nationalities to live in a single house is a recipe for disaster – insofar assimilation is impossible. The latter option inspired Ernest Renan‘s thinking. In 1882, roughly a hundred years after Sieyès, he responded to the intellectual challenge of German nationalism in a lecture at the Sorbonne conspicuously entitled ―Qu‟est-ce qu‟une nation?‖ Refuting the validity of objective criteria in defining the nation, Renan stressed collective will as its single defining trait. Like in Mill‘s thinking, the nation is because it asserts its nation-ness. As Renan famously stated: ―L‘existence d‘une nation est … un plébiscite de tous les jours, comme l‘existence de l‘individu est une affirmation perpétuelle de vie‖ ([1882] 1991: 41). The legally defined nation of the Revolution materialized as an expression of the people‘s will – a will at once formed by the state and sustaining it. To explain why people want to live together and thus constitute a political community Renan draws on Fichte‘s idea of the nation as a spiritual concept (without mentioning him, of course): ―Une nation est une âme, un principe spirituel‖ ([1882] 1991: 41). Yet, and by contrast to Fichte, the sense of solidarity that makes people ready to sacrifice themselves for the nation is not natural. It is the result of policies that construct a common past out of conflicting and painful memories.54 Mill had already understood that shared memories of past sacrifices were crucial in making people stick together in common political enterprise. Yet he struggled with the idea of assimilation and was, above all, concerned with the conditions for welding a single nation out of disparate peoples, its challenges and justification.55 For Renan, ―la souffrance en commun unit plus que la joie. En fait de souvenirs nationaux, les deuils valent mieux que les triomphes, car ils imposent des devoirs, ils commandent l‘effort en commun‖ ([1882] 1991: 41). 54

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Prefiguring what for Renan was beyond doubt, he writes: Nobody can suppose that it is not more beneficial to a Breton, or a Basque of French Navarre, to be brought into the current of the ideas and feelings of a highly civilized and cultivated people—to be a member of the French nationality, admitted on equal terms to all the privileges of French citizenship, sharing the advantages of French protection, and the dignity and prestige of French power—than to sulk on his own rocks, the half-savage relic of past times, revolving in his own little mental orbit, without participation or interest in the general movement of the world. The same remark applies to the Welshman or the Scottish Highlander, as members of the British nation ([1861] 1977: 549, his emphasis).

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Renan, representing the universal aspirations of the French Republic, had no such qualms.56 He conceded that national unity, when projected into the past, requires a selective memory if not outright manipulation of facts. What he writes is this: ―Or l‘essence d‘une nation est que tous les individus aient beaucoup de choses en commun, et aussi que tous aient oublié bien des choses‖ ([1882] 1991: 34). Put differently, by forging a single history the nation could be made. Nationalism had endowed the nation with a spiritual as well as an ethnic component. In Renan‘s thinking the former compensated for a lack of the latter. The spiritual component conveyed by national historiography could, so to say, emulate a community of shared descent. But cultural heterogeneity kept animating oppositional nationalisms although the nations they projected were no less constructed than Renan‘s state-nation. The advent of nationalism prompted states to push beyond mere legal or political unity. The people had to acquire a shared understanding, a consciousness, of who they were. State-building required building the according nation. Yet, nationalisms from below were tenacious. By the end of the nineteenth century and a hundred years after the Revolution, France had been successful in fusing disparate peoples into one by creating a degree of linguistic unity and more generally by asserting the cultural hegemony of the state (see Weber 1977).57 In other places, however, such nation-building from the top was less successful either because a unitary state had not existed before (Germany) or was too weak to homogenize its population (Italy) – or because the state was an Empire and thus altogether opposed to the idea of popular sovereignty and nationalism (Habsburg, the Russian and the Ottoman Empire).58 There, things that were better to be forgotten could animate nationalist movements who seized upon the ethnocultural traits for which they felt discriminated against and oppressed.59

By the end of the nineteenth century, the French Republic, though still reeling from the defeat at Sedan in 1871, had found new confidence. The political subtext of Renan‘s speech is all too obvious: to find a scientific basis for the argument why the conquest of Alsace and Lorraine by the Reich is illegitimate. 56

This could also provoke non-ethnic nationalism. The United States barely averted their dismemberment by a bloody civil war in the 1860s and set off to consolidate the nation and the state afterwards 57

In the cases of Italy and Germany, Piedmont-Sardinia and Prussia were lukewarm about nationalism. Prussia, in ethnonational terms, was more Polish than German and the House of Savoy, French-speaking and full of contempt for the people of the south of the peninsula, saw in the myth of an Italian nation the opportunity for self-aggrandizement rather than a national mission. For decades the question of how to make Italians was to haunt intellectuals and politicians and explains their sometime erratic decisions. Remember Azeglio‘s famous uttering that they made Italy but now had to make Italians. 58

What Renan effectively suggested was to substitute concepts of ―objective‖ belonging (e.g., race) with a concept of ethnicity understood as the cultural construction of ideas that define what makes a people a distinct historical group. 59

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In sum the principle of popular sovereignty could help to set the legitimacy of older states and of their rulers on firmer grounds but only insofar the state proved capable of building the nation, that is, to make the people look like their rulers. Where it failed the principle of popular sovereignty was likely to fuel opposition in the name of nationalist doctrine, and rather than to integrate people it proved subversive. Since the nation legitimized the state and its rulers, legitimacy could be contested by recourse to the very same concept. The advent of the idea of popular sovereignty, by a twist of history, had transformed cultural difference into a revolutionary force since the post-1648 sovereign entities were created with little or no regard for the wishes and the culture of the people concerned. 60 Writes Connor: ―in a single sweep, the notion of popular sovereignty undermined all [other] claims to legitimacy, and thereby infused ethnicity with a combustible political potential‖ (2002: 29).61 First called the ―principle of nationalities‖ the process of legitimation and delegitimation of the state‘s authority in the name of the nation came to be encapsulated in the juridical concept of ―self-determination‖. It was to underwrite nationalism as an oppositional force.

2) NATIONALISM & SELF-DETERMINATION When the principle of self-determination emerged as a judicial concept in the early twentieth century, it was a direct outgrowth of the idea of popular sovereignty and heavily influenced by nationalist thinking (Connor 2002: 29). Collective self-determination stands for the right of citizens to choose their own form of government or, more generally, for the right of a people to define its identity and gain control over its destiny in social, cultural, and political terms.62 But given the common understanding that the terminal political community is the nation, collective self-determination was translated into national self-determination. The concept of self-determination implies that a people has the right to endow itself with a political representation of its own choosing if it declares itself a nation.

For a detailed analysis of the process of the complex, triangular politics of ―nationalization‖ by and against the state in the twentieth century, see Brubaker (1996). 60

The rendering of popular sovereignty in terms of democratic legitimacy threatened to aggravate this tendency where the nation was not homogeneous (hence Mill‘s insistence on the benefits of assimilation) and else risked to usher in authoritarian regimes ruling in the name of the people. 61

The concept of self-determination originated in the liberal desire for personal autonomy and the need to create conditions permitting its attainment. In a contemporary rendering individual self-determination refers to ―acting as a causal agent in one‘s life and making choices and decisions regarding one‘s quality of life free from … external influence and interference‖ (Wehmeyer 1992: 305, quoted in Hechter and Borland 2001: 186). 62

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Today, the principle of national self-determination is widely regarded as a legacy of the otherwise opposing political ideals of Woodrow Wilson and V.I. Lenin.63 The political developments that made it one if not the most important concept in international relations can be clearly dated. It was during the Brest-Litovsk and Paris Peace Conferences at the end of the First World War that self-determination emerged as a key concept in diplomatic negotiations (Chernev 2011). The political practice it stood for, however, was already common to the nineteenth century. It had found expression in the urge to show, by way of elections, referenda or mere symbols, that a system of rule, especially if altered, met with the consent of those concerned.64 The idea of popular sovereignty had ushered in a new structure of legitimacy. Yet, the concept of national selfdetermination as such was still unknown. In retrospect, the independences of Greece, Serbia, and other Christian entities in the Balkans, may seem like instances of national self-determination. But it was more because of antipathy toward the Ottomans than enthusiasm for self-determination that they were supported in the West (Hechter and Borland 2001: 193).65 Likewise, the unifications of Italy and Germany were imposed from top-down rather than willed from below (see Duggan 2008; Clark 2007). If the need to justify territorial mergers arose, the mere assumption of a single nation was sufficient, as in the case of Germany.66 It was only in the wake of the First World War that selfdetermination, understood as a right to national independence, emerged as a principle of international law. Indeed, the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Sarajevo in the early summer of 1914, which triggered the war, had its roots in the region‘s simmering nationalist conflicts. Yet, by introducing selfdetermination, the very efforts to prevent repetition fuelled the flames of nationalism instead.67 Lenin‘s two main essays on the question of self-determination, namely The Revolutionary Proletariat and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination and The Socialist Revolutions and the Right of Nations to Self-Determination appeared in 1915 and 1916 respectively while, according to Lynch (2002: 424), in Wilson‘s own writings the concept of selfdetermination does not appear before 1914. 63

It had its roots in the process and ideas which led to the Declaration of Independence of 1774. Popular sovereignty meant that the people could constitute themselves as a nation and decide their government – and this is precisely what the North American settlers of New England had done. Back in Europe Napoleonic imperialism came to deem it necessary to hold referenda in order to legitimize the political reorganization of its conquests. Yet, these were hardly conducted in a free and impartial manner. No doubt, in the beginning, assessing the people‘s will by a vote in case of a territorial transfer, if it took place at all, was not more than a concession by those in power. 64

And in South America one state after another emancipated from colonial rule although economic interests rather than nationalism provided the rationale for these moves (Hechter and Borland 2001: 194). In Brazil, the failed attempt to set up a monarchy made the pretender declare independence in 1822. The only case which comes close to self-determination is Haiti, but Toussaint L‘Ouverture was reviled by the Western powers and France did everything to thwart its fledgling statehood. 65

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The unification of Italy by Piedmont-Sardinia was legitimized by mock referenda (Duggan 2008: 206, 210).

For many a contemporary the catastrophe had its roots in the Balkan conundrum with its competing claims to land and people. Habsburg was set to crush the rising Serbian nationalism which contested its regional hegemony. The struggle 67

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Contrary to conventional wisdom, it was Lenin rather than Wilson who introduced and operationalized the idea of self-determination at the beginning of the twentieth century. In his reading, self-determination was the principle that expressed the oppositional thrust of nationalism. In 1916 he wrote: ―The right of nations to selfdetermination means only the right to independence in a political sense, the right to free, political secession from the oppressing nation‖ ([1916] 1999).68 Marx and Engels had argued in the Communist Manifesto that ―the struggle of the proletariat with the bourgeoisie is at first a national struggle‖ ([1848] 2004). Lenin thus concluded that the proletarian and the national struggle worked in parallel: ―Just as mankind can achieve the abolition of classes only by passing through the transition period of the dictatorship of the oppressed class, so mankind can achieve the inevitable merging of nations only by passing through the transition period of complete liberation of all the oppressed nations, i.e., their freedom to secede‖ (Lenin [1916] 1999). After the 1917 February Revolution in Russia the provisional government adopted the self-determination formula as guiding principle of his new foreign policy and so did the Bolsheviks, who took the reins of power following the October Revolution a few month later (Chernev 2011: 371-2). With the war raging on and straining Russia‘s resources, the political upheaval opened an opportunity for the Central Powers to lure the Russians away from the Entente. During the negotiations in Brest-Litovsk, the Central Powers, in a strategic move, seized on the concept of self-determination in order to further their goals (especially with regard to Ukraine independence, in the case of Germany). The mutual agreement on the centrality of the concept – although its precise meaning was hotly debated at Brest-Litovsk and after – embarrassed the Western Allies and pushed them to follow suit and adopt it as well. By January 1918 the notion of self-determination had decisively entered the diplomatic lexicon – and it was there to stay. On 8 January 1918 Wilson, speaking before Congress, presented his famous Fourteen Points in which he sketched the outlines for a comprehensive post-war settlement. Although the principle of self-determination featured prominently in the ideas he exposed, Wilson did not mention it by name. It was only a month later in another speech laying out the principles guiding his peace proposals that he stated: ―‗Self-determination‘ is not a mere phrase. It is an imperative principle of action, which statesmen will henceforth ignore at their peril‖ (1918: 106). His emphatic call, made in the Fourteen Points, for ―justice to all peoples and nationalities, and

over Bosnia had eventually provoked the killing of Franz Ferdinand – the result now lay open for everyone to see. Habsburg wanted to keep the lid on other similar claims within its vast Empire and keep Serbia off the shores of the Adriatic Sea. Lenin was however clear that although self-determination meant ―complete freedom to carry on agitation in favor of secession, and freedom to settle the question of secession by means of a referendum of the nation that desires to secede‖, this was not identical with ―the demand for secession, for partition, for the formation of small states‖ ([1916] 1999). The Soviet policy was to adopt and put into practice these somewhat paradoxical ideas. 68

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their right to live on equal terms of liberty and safety with one another, whether they be strong or weak‖ now gained intellectual substance (1918a: 101). Accordingly, every territorial settlement had to ―be made in the interest and for the benefit of the populations concerned‖ and ―all well-defined national aspirations‖ should be ―accorded the utmost satisfaction that can be accorded them without introducing new or perpetuating old elements of discord and antagonism‖ (1918: 109). In other words, the will of those most immediately concerned by the creation of a new peaceful order had to be taken into account. Yet, in its application, the principle of self-determination was qualified by political realism and prudence. The Fourteen Points refrained from calling for the outright independence of the nationalities of the Habsburg Empire and only requested autonomies – a demand which largely accorded with the Empire‘s domestic reform policies at that time.69 The ―nationalities‖ of the Ottoman Empire, however, should be ―assured an undoubted security of life and an absolutely unmolested opportunity of autonomous development‖ (1918a: 99). What this meant and, more importantly, who these nationalities were, Wilson did not say. In continental Europe, Italy should be awarded the territories it had been promised earlier – based on the assumption that the majorities in these places were in fact Italian – and Poland was to be reconstituted as a state by those ―indisputably Polish‖ (1918a: 99).70 The colonial claims of European powers, in turn, had to be addressed by taking into account the interests of the concerned states and those of the subject populations. For the rest, self-determination in the Fourteen Points meant a return to the territorial status quo ante.71 But Wilson‘s insinuation that peoples had rights as nations superseding those of existing states raised hopes and provoked a flood of demands for recognition that left him baffled. As he himself was to admit: ―When I gave utterance to those words [that all nations had a right to self-determination], I said them without a knowledge that nationalities existed, which are coming to us day after day ... You do not know and cannot appreciate the anxieties that I have experienced …‖ (re-quoted in Lynch 2002: 426). The principle of selfdetermination whose appeal, for Wilson, stemmed from its democratic implications was a boon to nascent 69

With the war still going on, Wilson hoped to lure Habsburg away from the Reich and thus split the Central Powers.

Although the debates at the Paris Peace Conference were to prove the contrary, Wilson appeared to believe that it was obvious who was and was not Polish. Wilson later took issue with the Italian occupation of Fiume/Rijeka which went beyond the letter of the 1915 deal between Italy and the Entente which, in conceding to Rome‘s irredenta, had promised it South Tyrol, the Trentino, the Veneto and Istria. Neither was Fiume/Rijeka included nor could it be considered Italian land (whatever that meant, anyway). 70

Alsace-Lorraine was supposed to return to France and the sovereignty of Serbia, Romania and Montenegro had to be restored. 71

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nationalisms. Indeed, Wilson seems to have been aware of the ambiguity of the concept. Before presenting his Fourteen Points he is quoted to have said: ―in point of logic, of pure logic, this principle which was good in itself would lead to the complete independence of various small nationalities now forming part of various Empires. Pushed to its extreme, the principle would mean the disruption of existing governments, to an undefinable extent ...‖ (re-quoted in Lynch 2002: 425). A principled approach to self-determination appeared dangerous or, as US Secretary of State Robert Lansing noted at that time, ―loaded with dynamite‖ (quoted in Chernev 2011: 380). The principle of self-determination was to dominate the post-war order nonetheless. ―When the Peace Conference opened in 1919, its leading principle, or so the world thought, was to be self-determination for all nations‖ (Cobban 1945: 16, quoted in Chernev 2011: 379). Yet its introduction raised serious questions which still haunt the debate about it: Who exactly is entitled to it, under which circumstances, and what does this require in terms of policies? Against the background of potentially explosive interpretations, these three questions were to receive different answers in the course of the twentieth century. As the First World War drew to an end, a first attempt was made to limit its negative ramifications. The Covenant of the League of Nations, itself an organization Wilson had actively promoted, though he would not live to see it working, did not mention self-determination at all. The twin principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity dominated and with them the idea of collective security and the conviction that disputes should be settled through negotiations and arbitration rather than by force.72 Still, the League was not spared to deal with Wilson‘s legacy and several cases involving demands for self-determination were brought before it. It was forced to address the practical issues of its application for the first time in the conflict over the Aaland Islands.73 The archipelago‘s Swedish speaking inhabitants wanted the sovereignty over the Aalands to be transferred from Finland to Sweden.74 A Commission of Jurists was established in order to find out whether the Aaland Article 22 was somewhat of an exception since it dealt with peoples no longer under the sovereignty of former states that is, empires. Some were said to be ready to accede to the status of independent nations, others would need much more time or might be better off by being integrated into states. The wording of article 22 and especially the way it came to inform policy testify to everything but to a principled approach to self-determination. Expediency, Great Power interests and, of course, concerns for stability prevailed, as we will see with regard to the mandate regime in the Levant. 72

Britain raised the issue in 1920. Not so much because of its fondness for self-determination but because the archipelago was of strategic importance. It had been demilitarized since Treaty of Paris in 1856 though this provision had repeatedly been violated, by then. 73

The Aaland Islands are a speck of several hundred islands on the mouth of Bay of Bothnia between Sweden and Finland. The islands had been incorporated into the Russian Empire in 1809 and, as former part of the Duchy of Finland; 74

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question was a matter of exclusive jurisdiction or fell into the purview of the League. While it found that the issue was not in the sole responsibility of the Finnish state, it stressed that ―the principle that nations must have the right of self-determination is not the only one to be taken into account. Even though it be regarded as the most important of the principles governing the formation of States, geographical, economic and other similar considerations may put obstacles in the way of its complete recognition‖ (quoted in Brown 1921: 270). A compromise had to be found. A Commission of Rapporteurs was tasked to elaborate a political solution to be implemented by the League in cooperation with both, Sweden and Finland. The position the Commission took in exploring options for a compromise was unequivocal. Highlighting the potential consequences of an unqualified right to self-determination of peoples it stated: ―To concede to minorities, either of language or religion, or to any fractions of a population the right of withdrawing from the community to which they belong, because it is their wish or their good pleasure, would be to destroy order and stability within States and to inaugurate anarchy in international life; it would be to uphold a theory incompatible with the very idea of the State as a territorial and political unity‖ (quoted in Kirgis 1994: 304; also Gregory 1923). It was eventually agreed in 1921 that the Aalands would remain with Finland but that the latter had to respect the Swedish culture and language of the archipelago‘s inhabitants and accept its demilitarization. A middle ground between self-determination and state sovereignty had been charted. It was to be a lasting success. In other places things went not as smoothly as here. The Austrian Anschluss of March 1938 and, perhaps more importantly, the dismemberment of Czechoslovakia following the Munich Agreement, later that year, epitomized the seditious nature of the principle of selfdetermination.75 British Prime Minister Chamberlain, on the eve of his departure for Munich, had told the Lower House on 28 September: ―in view of recent developments, the frontier districts between Czechoslovakia and Germany, where the Sudeten population was in an important majority, should be given the full right of selfdetermination at once‖ (quoted in Brügel 1978: 655). Although the developments of 1938 set the stage for the Second World War, the Anglo-American agreement of 1941, outlining Allied war aims and known as the they were claimed by Finland once it became independent in November 1917 (and recognized by the Bolsheviks in January 1918). The Aalanders sought attachment to Sweden and demanded a referendum which would certainly have confirmed their wish. The Sudeten German Party, since 1935 the largest political force of the German minority and allied with the Nazis, demanded in the 1938 Carlsbad Decrees recognition of German peoplehood and large autonomy. The demands, criticized even among Sudeten Germans because of their separatist implications, were rejected by the Czech government and provided Hitler with a pretext to intervene diplomatically (in fact, the demands had been formulated on his instigation). After Czechoslovakia had lost the Sudetenland, Poland seized a patch of territory in the north, Hungary took the territories with a Hungarian majority, then Germany occupied Bohemia and Moravia, and what remained of Slovakia became an independent state. Czechoslovakia had ceased to exist. 75

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Atlantic Charter, reiterated the idea of self-determination. It pledged, among other things, ―the right of all peoples to choose the form of government under which they will live‖ and wished ―to see sovereign rights and self-government restored to those who have been forcibly deprived of them‖ (Atlantic Charter 1941). The wording, at least in case of Britain, was adopted out of strategic concerns. It was not to apply to its overseas possessions and was criticized because it risked compromising the post-war plans of the Polish government in exile.76 But soon self-determination movements across the globe referred to the Atlantic Charter in order to add weight to their demands. At the San Francisco Conference in 1945 the United States opposed the introduction of the notion of selfdetermination into the Charter of the United Nations. Yet, the Soviet Union successfully lobbied for it (Kirgis 1994: 304). Article 1(2) on the Purposes and Principles of the UN now states as its goal: ―To develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace‖ (United Nations 1945, my emphasis). Article 2(1), however, establishes the ―principle of the sovereign equality of all its Members‖ as basis of the organization. The problem which had already preoccupied the League earlier the century namely, the tension between state sovereignty and self-determination of peoples resurfaced. The issue now became even more pressing since although neither ―peoples‖ nor ―self-determination‖ was defined, both concepts were made subject to the defense of a more fundamental principle – individual human rights. Article 55 of the Charter declares that in view of ―the creation of conditions of stability and well-being which are necessary for peaceful and friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples,‖ the UN ought to promote ―universal respect for, and observance of, human rights and fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion‖ (United Nations 1945). Given that individual rights were often denied to whole communities, self-determination could be presented as emanating from them. Securing individual rights was to be a collective struggle by those discriminated against. The logic was impeccable, but the blurring of the conceptual boundary between collective self-determination and individual rights, between a legal entitlement and the struggle for it, threatened to open a Pandora‘s Box. The scope of self-determination had to be restricted.

Winston Churchill, in a letter to Clement Attlee, called it an ―interim and partial statement of war aims designed to reassure all countries of our righteous purpose and not the complete structure which we should build after the victory‖ (requoted in Prażmowska 1995: 93). The Polish feared that reference to self-determination would make it difficult to justify inclusion of territories in the post-war state which were not inhabited by a Polish majority but crucial for security reasons, like Silesia, East Prussia, and Danzig (Prażmowska 1995: 92). 76

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Chapters XI and XII of the UN Charter, dealing with the fate of Non-Self-Governing Territories and Trusteeships respectively, suggest a specific and well-determined field of application for self-determination. Populations under alien rule, defined by the territory in which they live, have the right to free institutions, selfgovernment, or even independence. Here, self-determination appeared to be limited to the colonial realm.77 The Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonial Countries and Peoples of 1960 (UNGA Resolution 1514) endorsed this point of view. In the face of ―alien subjugation, domination and exploitation‖ which were said to represent ―a denial of fundamental human rights,‖ self-determination now constituted an ―inalienable right‖ to ―complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory‖ (United Nations 1960).78 The debate as to who is entitled to self-determination, its scope of applicability, and the implications for policymaking was brought to a temporary settlement. But the prominence of the notion of self-determination in the Charter and the recurrent albeit oblique notion of ―people‖ in distinction to ―nations‖ pointed beyond such a circumscribed use. Peoples claiming nationhood were not only to be found in colonies, that is, non-selfgoverning territories or trusteeships as defined by the UN. Many of the so-called national liberation movements seeking regime change or independence in fact opposed colonial regimes, but not all. With the 1966 UN Covenants on Human Rights, a move began to broaden the scope of self-determination to include non-colonial people. Both Covenants read in article 1(1): ―All peoples have the right of selfdetermination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development‖ (United Nations 1966). More specifically, the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states: ―In those States in which ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities exist, persons belonging to such minorities shall not be denied the right, in community with the other members of their group, to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion, or to use their own language‖ (United Nations 1966, my emphasis). The territorial interpretation of self-determination, as envisioned by the Charter and endorsed by resolution 1514, was de facto discarded. Now, emphasis was placed on peoplehood while the framing of self-determination in terms of human rights was maintained. But more was yet to come.

It is noteworthy that while the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights mentions nations and peoples in its preamble the notion of self-determination is completely absent (nationality appears but stands for citizenship). 77

Self-determination now advanced to an ―inalienable right‖ of ―peoples‖ to ―complete freedom, the exercise of their sovereignty and the integrity of their national territory‖ (United Nations 1960). The idea, also implicit to the Charter, that self-determination was based on human rights was now explicitly stated. As article 1 points out: ―The subjection of peoples to alien subjugation, domination and exploitation constitutes a denial of fundamental human rights, is contrary to the Charter of the United Nations and is an impediment to the promotion of world peace and co-operation‖ (United Nations 1960). 78

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The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations was a watershed. Voted in 1970 by the General Assembly as Resolution 2625 it effectively qualified state sovereignty. In a remarkable reversal of the Charter‘s hierarchy of principles, sovereignty was made subject to the right to selfdetermination. It argued that since ―all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development‖ every state has ―the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter‖ (United Nations 1970, my emphasis). The usual disclaimer that sovereignty towered over all other considerations was formulated in a way that suggested that states not honoring the principle of self-determination did not deserve to be sovereign and had forfeited their right to territorial integrity.79 And it did not stop here. The Declaration insisted that every state had the additional duty ―to refrain from any forcible action which deprives peoples referred to above in the elaboration of the present principle of their right to self-determination and freedom and independence‖ (United Nations 1970). That it specified that self-determination could also mean something short of statehood did not lessen its significance.80 Perhaps most insidious, the Declaration established a right to resistance and seek external support when selfdetermination was denied.81 The result of this move could be witnessed in the Definition of Aggression, adopted by the General Assembly in 1974. There it was noted, with reference to the Declaration, that none of the acts listed as aggression could prejudice actions committed in a struggle for self-determination.82 The use of armed force by non-state actors was de facto deemed acceptable as long as it is considered to be a form of resistance of a people demanding self-determination. Therefore, Sproat concludes that the UN ―encouraged, if not actually legalized, the idea that violence is a legitimate means to achieve self-determination available to

It reads: ―Nothing in the foregoing paragraphs shall be construed as authorizing or encouraging any action which would dismember or impair, totally or in part, the territorial integrity or political unity of sovereign and independent States conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples as described above and thus possessed of a government representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction as to race, creed or color‖ (United Nations 1970, my emphasis). 79

Besides achieving a sovereign and independent state, it could also result in the ―free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people‖ (United Nations 1970). This perhaps explains why the Declaration was a move instigated by the West against the Eastern Block. 80

It states: ―in their actions against and resistance to such forcible action in pursuit of the exercise of their right to selfdetermination, such peoples are entitled to seek and to receive support in accordance with the purposes and principles of the Charter of the UN‖ (United Nations 1970). 81

Article 7 reads: ―Nothing in this Definition … could in any way prejudice the right to self-determination, freedom and independence, as derived from the Charter, of peoples forcibly deprived of that right and referred to in the Declaration… nor the right of these people to struggle to that end and to seek and receive support…‖ (United Nations 1974). 82

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those to whom the right belongs‖ (1996: 98).83 These developments vindicated Wilson‘s initial concerns about the idea of self-determination. It was to prove as much a source of instability as a means to appease conflicts between or within states. Sovereignty was now made incumbent on compliance with the principle of self-determination. Pushed to its extremes, the accusation of non-inclusiveness in the face of claims to self-determination threatened to justify the dismembering of states. ―The striking contrast between the 1960 and 1970 General Assembly formulations,‖ writes Kirgis, ―suggests that from about 1970 on, there could be a right of ‗peoples‘ – still not well defined – to secede from an established state that does not have a fully representative form of government, or at least to secede from a state whose government excludes people of any race, creed or color from political representation when those people are the ones asserting the right and they have a claim to a defined territory‖ (1994: 306). And more than twenty years later, in 1993, this idea was reiterated in the Vienna Declaration emanating from the 1993 UN World Conference on Human Rights. Only governments ―conducting themselves in compliance with the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples‖ and thus ―representing the whole people belonging to the territory without distinction of any kind‖ could be assured of their sovereignty (United Nations 1993). If anything than the threshold for uncontested sovereignty was now set even higher. At the same time, the collapse of communism in Central and Eastern Europe brought to the world‘s attention conflicts that the concept of self-determination had been meant to address at the beginning of the century already. Aware of the dangers of self-determination, especially secessionism, the discourse among policymakers shifted and became one emphasizing minority rights.84 Several documents were to address the issue, first among them the Council of Europe‘s Framework Convention for the Protection of National Minorities of 1995.85 But none of these documents mentions self-determination by name, and similar measures, like

In consequence, Protocol I to the Geneva Conventions of 1948 from 1977 widened the scope of its application to include ―armed conflicts which peoples are fighting against colonial domination and alien occupation and against racist regimes in the exercise of their right of self-determination, as enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations and the Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations‖ (United Nations 1977: Art. 1(4)). 83

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Kymlicka argues that ―there was no Western discourse of ‗the rights of national minorities‘ prior to 1990‖ (2006: 39).

Others are the Council‘s European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, the OSCE‘s Oslo Recommendations on the Linguistic Rights of National Minorities and the establishment of the post of a High Commissioner on National Minorities. Minority rights also are mentioned in the 1993 Copenhagen Criteria determining the eligibility of countries for the EU-membership. 85

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territorial autonomy for instance, are hardly suggested.86 The idea guiding the approach in the early 1990s was that rights attached to individuals and not to groups. The rights listed in the Convention focus on the protection of cultural difference and pertain to ―persons belonging to national minorities‖ – political rights for minorities as such are glaringly absent (Council of Europe 1995).87 After all, it seems that self-determination, whether in the form of independence or territorial autonomy, is less a right but something to be achieved through a struggle for self-determination.88 The debate over selfdetermination has provided a normative principle to be invoked by those contesting the legitimacy of the state in the name of a nation. The questions as to the ―who‖, ―when‖, and ―how‖ raised by the advent of the concept can nowadays be answered as follows: Self-determination is, above all, national self-determination, and it is claimed by peoples defined by ethnicity along religious, linguistic and/or territorial lines. Which groups actually emerge as a nation, nationality, or national minority and as such raise demands for self-determination is a matter of fact. Objective criteria, however determined, are of no help. Nations are not discovered; they proclaim themselves to be.89 Next, the struggle for self-determination, that is, the struggle to assert the nation‘s quality as political community in its own right is waged by reference to the nation‘s right to self-determination. However, its awkward status in international law encourages nationalists to appeal to the discourse on human rights instead. Thereby they draw on the understanding that collective self-determination derives from the defense of individual human rights. Militants exploit human rights abuses targeting those nominally members of the nation to assert its right to self-determination. The defense of human rights thus becomes indistinguishable from the struggle for political autonomy or even statehood. Demands directed at the state seamlessly morph into demands directed against it.

According to Kymlicka (2006: 46), an endorsement of the concept of territorial autonomy as form of ―internal selfdetermination‖ for national minorities can be found in the initial Copenhagen declaration of 1990 and in Recommendation 1201 of the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly. 86

Only in ―areas inhabited by persons belonging to national minorities traditionally or in substantial numbers‖ general polices with regard to language use and education are demanded (Council of Europe 1995). 87

Kirgis suggests that with regard to international law self-determination is less a customary law than a so-called opinio juris, a subjective understanding by some states that they are bound by the provision in question (1994: 306). In order to constitute a customary law, however, the custom to be applied must be ―accepted as law.‖ 88

The Kurds are a case in point. After the First World War and with a Kurdish state mentioned in the Treaty of Sèvres, a British memorandum to the League of Nations claimed that Kurdish independence was ―outside the realm of practical politics,‖ as ―the Kurds of Iraq are entirely lacking in those characteristics of political cohesion which are essential to selfgovernment. Their organization and outlook are essentially tribal‖ (re-quoted in Eller 1999: 164). Although driven by British interests, this view was also the result of the weakness of Kurdish nationalism. 89

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Finally, self-determination, because of its association with secessionism, is a delicate subject and its recognition, as a right, crucially depends on the wider political circumstances, notably, its likely impact on regional stability (Kirgis 1994). Having initially been restricted to colonial peoples, the renewed broadening of its scope came with a differentiation of its actual meaning in order to make it compatible with the twin principles of state sovereignty and territorial integrity. Yet, talk of internal self-determination notwithstanding, national self-determination still carries the idea of a nation‘s right to a state. Whatever the actual outcome of the struggle, the introduction of the notions of nationhood and self-determination in the political debate are a game changer. Where they gain currency, the legitimacy of the claims raised by the nationalist opposition is de facto accepted.

SUMMARY The previous discussion of the concept of legitimacy, the advent of the nation and its transformation into a subversive force, and the introduction of the principle of national self-determination raises a fundamental question. Are multinational states essentially illegitimate entities, as Connor suggests (2002: 36)? Such a claim seems odd, for only a few states qualify for the questionable label ―ethnically homogenous‖.90 In fact, in several case studies, Hechter (2009, 2009a) and others show that people tend to be pragmatic rather than doctrinarian when it comes to the acceptance of rule by people stemming from a nominally different ethnic group or nation. Rothstein, for instance, argues for the importance of procedural fairness as determinant of legitimacy and reviews the situation of Serbs stranded in what was poised to become independent Croatia in the early 1990s. This case shows how the option of accommodation was intentionally undermined and offers a telling example of the contested nature of legitimacy even when competing nationalism are involved. Initially the demands of the Serb leadership in the Krajina focused on autonomy and equality within Croatia. But radical forces gained the upper hand, not least because of policies widely perceived as discriminatory following Tudjman‘s Croatian Democratic Party (HDZ) victory in the first multiparty election in April/May 1990. The latter‘s unmistakable intent to take Croatia out of Yugoslavia and the drafting of a new constitution voted in December 1990, which allowed Croatia‘s secession and defined Serbs as a minority rather than as a constituent nation, were strong signals. For the Serbs it was clear that this ―would likely have very negative consequences for their life chances‖ (Rothstein 2009: 322). Those fears were vindicated by armed clashes between Serb militias and Croatian security forces keen to assert Croatia‘s sovereignty. Moderate voices To argue, for instance, that the two conscription crises in Québec are indicative of a deep-seated feeling that the Canadian state is ―a non-legitimate political expression of the Québécois‖ – the anachronistic use of the notion of Québécois aside – is questionable, to say the least (but Connor 2002: 37). 90

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within the Serb community fell silent; accommodation, envisioned by some, became impossible.91 By declaring the Republic of Serbian Krajina in 1991, Serbs in Croatia sought in their turn to appeal to the principle of national self-determination.92 It required their expulsion in 1995 to dismantle its parallel structures and relieve the international community of the burden to cope with the issue. There is no doubt that the hegemonic idea of the nation-state makes it difficult to conceive of a people living in a political entity which, by name, is not its own. The principle that only like should rule over like makes living in a state owned by Others problematic – an abnormal condition. Insofar it is taken for granted that each nation deserves its proper state, the presence of different nations within one state is problematic. Yet, multinational states suffer only from a legitimacy deficit and this deficit stems exclusively from the viewpoint of nationalist doctrine. A rule-based approach to legitimacy suggests that other factors like the legality of rule and its validity in terms of universal principles have a role to play in people‘s assessment of the legitimacy of the current order. However, nationalist doctrine cuts deep in that it challenges the structure of rule in its entirety. Nationalism, once it becomes salient and permeates public discourse, transforms a latent deficit into an all-out onslaught on the state‘s legitimacy. The nation, in order to shatter a state‘s legitimacy, has to become nationalist. In 1953, Clyde Eagleton, in an early contribution to the debate on self-determination, pointed out that it was up to the people themselves to prove their status as a nation entitled to statehood and thus to recognition by the community of states. The proof of their nationhood lay in the capacity to impose themselves on the international environment, that is, by successfully proving the legitimacy of their undertaking. He feared that the involvement of the UN in adjudicating claims to self-determination was contrary to the very notion of ―self‖ in self-determination (1953: 593). ―Doubtless,‖ he wrote, ―the real test is the desire of a group to live together under their own chosen political system. But how is this desire to be measured or ascertained‖ (1953: 595)?

Indicative of a certain degree of moderation is a speech delivered in June 1990 by the most important Serb leader in Croatia back then, Jovan Raskovic, who was soon to be sidelined by more radical forces. He stated: The Serbs respect the Croatian people‘s right to their sovereign state, but they (the Serbs) demand in that state an equal position for the Serbian and other peoples. The Serbs do not want a second state in Croatia, but they demand autonomy. … The Serbian people in Croatia should be allowed to speak their language, to write their scripts, to have their schools (cheers), to have their education programs, their publishing houses, and their newspapers ( re-quoted in Rothstein 2009: 321). 91

It is interesting to note that the Serb Democratic Party (SDS), the Serb counterpart to the nationalist HDZ, gathered less than 2 percent of the vote in the 1990 elections whereas back then more than 12 percent of the inhabitants of Croatia declared themselves to be Serb. In the fall of 1990, a referendum on autonomy for Serbs in Croatia held in Serb majority areas got more than 97 percent approval. The atmosphere had changed. The introduction of Serb paramilitary units by Belgrade that followed and was met with Croatian intransigence escalated the situation. 92

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The answer is to be found in the struggle that militant nationalists wage against the state. They have to exploit the legitimacy deficit by mobilizing people and make them act in ways that confirm the presence of a nation willing to determine itself.

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CHAPTER TWO: THE NATION – The Imagined Political Community as Collective Ethnic Identity

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INTRODUCTION What is the nation? Benedict Anderson defines the nation as an imagined political community that is sovereign and limited. It is limited because it has ―finite, if elastic boundaries, beyond which lie other nations‖ and, as such, it will never be ―coterminous with mankind‖ (1991: 7). It is sovereign since it emancipated itself from and replaced the ―legitimacy of the divinely-ordained, hierarchical dynastic realm‖ of the pre-enlightenment period and wants to be free (1991: 7). Finally, the nation is ―imagined as a community,‖ because, regardless of social inequalities that may prevail in each, ―the nation is always conceived as a deep, horizontal comradeship‖ (1991: 7, his emphasis). Indeed, the nation has to be imagined since ―the members of even the smallest nation will never know most of their fellow-members, meet them, or even hear of them‖ (1991: 6). The nation, so defined, is not only political, as per definition, but politically consequential. It makes people stand and move together as one. Anderson sees in the camaraderie it elicits a source of individual devotion which made many millions willing to fight and die for it (1991: 7). Yet, nations are products of history. They exist only in our imagination and by virtue of nationalism – its concomitant ideology. It is much like Marxism which made us see the world as one of social classes established by objective material relations.93 Underpinning most works on nationalist conflicts is the assumption that ethnic belonging is the key to understand the power of nationalism. Ethnicity makes for a strong collective identity. Co-ethnics are said to believe that they constitute an extended family – facts to the contrary notwithstanding. They share the conviction that there is a fundamental difference between members and non-members and that one owes to his own people more than to others. The emotional appeal and moral weight conferred by the family analogy, so the idea, renders ethnic groups powerful actors. Since ethnicities are constituted by shared beliefs, they should not suffer from collective action dilemmas like interest-based groups. Their political potential is realized when people become conscious of the importance of ethnic differences in the public sphere. The ethnic group turns into a political community that eventually forms a nation. Nationalism, as a popular movement, is thus rooted in ethnic beliefs. I term this view the belief-intoaction model. It is a compelling story explaining why nationalism is such a powerful social force. Yet, I argue that this perspective accords undue weight to collective beliefs as compared to individual interests. A critical view of the process that results in the belief-into-action model suggests a more complex approach.

This does not mean, however, that interests were not opposed and conflicts inexistent – it only means that they were not framed in that way and therefore had a different quality. 93

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We infer the presence of specific beliefs from observable actions and the justifications provided. The collective representations may however differ from the rationale for individual action. At least theoretically, we have to admit the possibility that people act for reasons unrelated to the specific beliefs which are said to explain actions and endow them with meaning. Collective behavior may only be ethnically structured rather than determined by ethnic belonging. This is not the same as saying that ethnicity is merely a matter of rational choice. Ethnicity is a cognitive phenomenon. People are usually cognizant as to which ethnocultural group they belong, they know who they are, so to say. Shared understandings of ethnic identity exist and may direct action – but ethnicity co-exists and is challenged by alternative identity-defining social categories. In fact, the meaning of ethnicity itself may be contested. What makes a particular understanding of ethnicity salient in the public sphere are behavioral patterns that impose it as the hegemonic identity. In terms of scientific explanation there is an irreducible gap between the motivational sources of individual behavior, on the one hand, and collective identity as the normative representation of social wholes, on the other. The interaction between both is captured by my action-into-representation model. In situations where the meaning of belonging is contested, actions perceived as having an ethnic content may bring people to adopt and comply with a definite understanding of what their collective identity is all about. The knowledge about who we are is thereby joined by representations that tell us what we are. Hence, the belief-into-action model turns out to be only one model for individual action among others. Belief

Action

Cognition

Action

Representation

Figure 1: Belief-into-Action and Action-into-Representation Models

With regard to the actions of legitimacy-seeking militant nationalists both models produce different expectations. According to the belief-into-action model, in order to mobilize the nation militant nationalists tap

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antagonistic ethnic beliefs.94 By contrast, the action-into-representation model requires a mechanism that forces people to change their behavior toward ethnic others in order for a new collective representation to emerge that, in turn, benefits the militants. I will begin by revisiting the arguments underpinning the belief-into-action model. A critical discussion of its assumption will show that it is theoretically flawed. The assertion that it is because of its ethnic content that the nation determines individual behavior is questionable. A closer look at the concept of collective identity bears that out. Yet, there is no doubt that ethnicity is a powerful social category. Its political relevance, especially in form of the nation, tends to eclipse other identities that cut across the divisions it imposes. This process is at the basis of the action-into-representation model. Here ethnicity, or for that matter nationality, is about cognition. The question then is how the ethnic or national imaginary imposes itself in the first place.

I) THE ETHNIC NATION: A MATTER OF BELIEF Is the nation just an ethnic group in a different garb? Some tend to argue so. Walker Connor insists that ethnonationalism and nationalism are essentially synonymous since they both refer to a belief in shared kinship (1994: xi, 207). In fact, according to Anthony Smith, ―all nations and their nationalisms are, at root, ‗ethnic‘, historically speaking,‖ although ―the nation may in time come to transcend a given ethnicity and incorporate other ethnies within a broader political community‖ (2001: 101, his emphasis).95 Nations appear as the highest form of politicized ethnicity. Not that each and every ethnic group makes it into a nation – but, so the argument, each nation has an ethnic essence.96 Ethnicity is the thing that makes the nation move. It is the factor that explains why nationalism is so compelling.97 Nationalist mobilization, however, may occur even without them since beliefs have their own agency (see Kaufman 2001). 94

Smith defines the nation as ―a named human community occupying a homeland, and having common myths and a shared history, a common public culture, a single economy and common rights and duties for all members‖ (2001: 13). This puts the nation close to the concept of ethnic group, for which Smith uses the term ethnie. He defines it as ―a named human community connected to a homeland, possessing common myths of ancestry, shared memories, one or more elements of shared culture, and a measure of solidarity, at least among the elites‖ (Smith 2001: 13). 95

Potential candidates to nationhood have vanished or remain in a state of folk cultures (e.g., Sorbs or Occitans) and the recent attempt to create a ―Padanian nation‖ from scratch in northern Italy looks like an extravaganza. 96

According to Connor nationalism, often understood as an extreme form of loyalty toward a state or a country, is misunderstood for something which should be called patriotism. When there is a conflict between loyalty to the nation and loyalty to the state, he finds that it is usually the former that prevails (Connor 1994: 81; 207). Note that the ethnic imaginary is said to even permeate national identities who claim to be non-ethnic (Smith 2001: 216). One could point to the two most prominent examples of so-called civic nations, namely France and the United States for support of this argument. The message of the French Revolution was liberté, égalité, fraternité – liberty and equality for and realized by a 97

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Since nationalism adheres to a perennialist view, nations are perceived as historic entities.98 Facts to the contrary notwithstanding, people believe that they are related by kinship ties and thus share common ancestry. For Connor, this is ―a matter which is known intuitively and unquestionably, a matter of attitude and not of fact‖ (1994: 94, his emphasis).99 Ethnic ties are perceived as primordial, ―by virtue of some unaccountable absolute import attributed to the tie itself‖ (Geertz 1963: 109).100 Such a subjective understanding of ethnonational belonging is sustained by observable facts, like differences pertaining to language use or cultural tradition. The subjective side of ethnonational identity is confirmed and strengthened by so-called other-identification. Individuals not only identify with an ethnic group, they are also identified as such. Subjective beliefs are reciprocated by others who themselves are classified as belonging to a different group. We imagine humanity to be parsed into neat pseudo-species: there are Germans, Chechens, and Chinese as there are cats and mice. Individual acculturation or mixed descent irritates and is vexing since ethnicity is taken as constitutive of one‘s personhood. Fearon and Laitin (2000) have termed this phenomenon ―everyday primordalism‖. Whereas this view radically simplifies the social world, it is a powerful vehicle for collective action. Connor argues that ―not what is, but what people believe is‖ informs their behavior (1994: 75, his emphasis). Given the outstanding role of ethnicity, collective action in its name should not surprise us. This would not be a problem, were it not for the impression that its emotional appeal made it possible, ―over the past two centuries, for so many millions of people, not so much to kill, as willingly to die‖ (Anderson 1991: 7). Myths of belonging, though objectively false, appear to have an indelible grip on people‘s minds, to the point of making them sacrifice themselves for some higher good embodied in the nation. Taken at face value, one cannot help but concede that, although a matter of subjective belief, ethnonational identity has a reality of its own.

huge fraternity, that is, brothers in arms, all members of one and the same family and thus allegedly of same blood. Also, the Founding Fathers still inspire and give direction to the children of the multicultural settler society of the United States – a family of families. One, of course, can believe that latter-day Germans are of the same stock as Arminius and the tribes who fought back the Romans in 9 AD, or that Skanderbeg was as much Albanian as Alexander the Great was Greek – or for that matter Macedonian. These are beliefs that are historically unfounded. There is nowhere a one-to-one identity across time between ethnic groups and the nation. And, indeed, the most spirited scholarly defense of the argument that modern nations have an ethnic basis highlights continuity rather than identity (see Smith 1986). 98

For an alternative view that sees ethnicity as an epiphenomenon of the power of genomes, see Van den Berghe (1978). 99

Geertz argues that ―for virtually every person, in every society, at almost all times, some attachments seem to flow more from a sense of natural – some would say – spiritual – affinity than from social interaction‖ (1963: 110). Hence, primordial attachments ―are definitely demarcated and vary in systematic ways‖ (Geertz 1963: 118). 100

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Since people perceive humanity to be organized into clearly distinguishable ethnicities and care about the according categories, it seems expedient to acknowledge the phenomenon of everyday primordalism. The social sciences may be able to reconstitute the process through which national identity was constructed over the long haul, but they have to cope with the fact that people believe in and act as if the nation was a historical constant. As van Evera argues in a short essay entitled ―Primordalism Lives!‖: ―The constructivist claim that ethnic identities are socially constructed is clearly correct. After all, our ethnic identities are not stamped on our genes, so they must be socially constructed. It does not follow, however, that we should drop the assumption of fixed ethnic identity‖ (van Evera 2001). Once formed and named as such, it becomes a social fact and is there to stay. Ethnic groups and nations do not appear out of the blue, and if they change then only at a glacial pace – so far the argument. The solidity of ethnicity is said to stem from a mechanism Smith has termed ―mythomoteur‖ (1986). The mythomoteur is ―an overall framework of meaning‖ comprising myths and symbols which provide the ethnie with historical depths and support the belief in common ancestry (1986: 24).101 They bestow the group with a cultural essence and a collective purpose and as such help to secure continuity over time. 102 What is more, when the nation appeared on the scene, the mythomoteur helped to legitimize a new order and eased the costs of societal transformation for individuals dislocated by modernization, secularization, and the atomizing impact of mass societies (1986: 174-80). 103 The perception of a common historical legacy and the idea of cultural uniqueness help people to overcome anonymity and give meaning to their lives. Therefore it should not surprise us to see ethnic myths ―take on a binding, exterior quality ‖ (Smith 1986: 22). Ethnic belonging shapes peoples‘ self-view and informs their actions. The presence of the mythomoteur, in short, helps to explain why ethnic groups – and for that matter nations – are strong communities. They not only attribute people a place in the world that transcends their biological For Smith, myths ―coalesce and are edited into chronicles, epics, ballads, which combine cognitive maps of the community‘s history and situation with poetic metaphors of its sense of dignity and identity‖ (1986: 24). They not only have ―poetic‖ but also ―didactic and integrative purposes‖ (1986: 25). All this combines to constitute the cultural substance of the ethnie that eventually comes to animate the nation. The mythomoteur explains the emotional attachment person feel toward his ethnie. Ethnic culture may be flexible and ready to assimilate or combine a variety of cultural elements but at its very core are long-standing myths and symbols that are reinterpreted by successive generations. 101

According to Smith, the reason why cultural collectivities are much more stable than interest-based organizations is because the ―basic cultural elements from which they are constructed – memories, values, symbols, myths and traditions – tend to be more persistent and binding; they represent recurrent elements of collective continuity and difference‖ (2001: 19). 102

Writes Smith: ―Each generation … constructs its own social maps and chooses its special ethnic moralities, but it does so within a limited matrix formed by a strong social attachment to … particular landscapes and unique ranges of epochs and personages, for these constitute the intrinsic ethnicity of particular ethnie‖ (1986: 207). 103

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existence but also direct their struggles. ―In times of great crisis,‖ Smith remarks, ethnicity has been able to arouse ―powerful sentiments of anger and revenge for what were seen as attacks upon a traditional life-style and identity‖ (1986: 46). Nationalism, it turns out, is just the latest manifestation of an age-old phenomenon. It is the natural expression of an ethnie which attempts to defend and maintain its cultural distinctiveness against its foes by claiming statehood – ―a type of collective conduct, based on the collective will of a moral community and the shared emotions of a putatively ancestral community‖ (Smith 2001: 82).104 Although the nation differs from earlier ethnies for it is territorialized, explicitly politicized, and has an egalitarian ethos, it derives its mobilizing power from its ethnic imaginary. In other words, it has merely ―extended and deepened‖ ethnicity‘s ―meanings and scope‖ (Smith 1986: 216). Given that people see the world in primordalist terms, should we become analytical primordialists? Indeed, the view that ethnic groups are essentially communities of believers in a shared destiny recommends such a move.105 Yet, the assumption that individuals act in unison only because of putative membership in an ethnic group or a nation can be doubted. In fact, the mere presence of ethnic or national categories says ―nothing about the depth, resonance, or power of such categories in the lived experience of the persons so categorized‖ (Brubaker and Cooper 2000: 26-7, their emphasis). From an empirical perspective, although we all may display a tendency to think in primordialist terms, it does not follow that we actually behave in that way. In fact, it is indisputable that when it comes to actions attributed to a nation or an ethnic group it is only a faction among those designated that actually does something.106 No doubt, ethnicity and the nation are particularly This should not be mistaken for an ancient hatreds-type of argument. Ethnicity provides a direction to collective action, it does not determine it. Recurring to Smith‘s ideas, Kaufman has made this clear in his work on the wars punctuating the transition in Eastern Europe in the 1990s. Although centered on the presence of myth-symbol complexes, the hate-filled emotions underlying these conflicts were not ‗ancient‘ but modern: ―Ethnic hatreds are renewed in each generation by mythologies that are typically modern revisions of older stories with quite different messages‖ (Kaufman 2001: 11). 104

The hypothesis that one‘s identity and autonomy literally evaporate in larger social entities finds support in psychology which produced a research program that goes by the name of social identity theory (SIT). Tajfel and Turner (1979), who introduced SIT, argue that group membership is crucial for one‘s self-esteem. Intergroup relations are to a very large extent relational and comparative and therefore inevitably shape interpersonal relations. The identification of individuals as group members defines them as ―similar to or different from, as ‗better‘ or ‗worse‘ than, members of other groups‖ (Tajfel and Tuner 1979: 40). Individual concern for one‘s self-esteem motivates people to struggle in order to maintain or enhance the status of their peer group. This creates an emotional attachment. Group membership thus determines individual behavior and collective action can be explained as essentially a struggle over status hierarchies among groups. SIT squares pretty well with the Smith‘s theory and Horowitz (1985) approvingly refers to SIT‘s findings (Volkan [1998] offers a psychoanalytic argument which has a similar thrust such his approach remains a minority position and I have doubts on its analytical value). Yet, early work on SIT also acknowledged the various individual strategies to avoid the costs of one‘s social identity and highlighted the continuum between group-driven and strictly self-interested individual behavior. 105

Our tendency to recur in such situations to the principles of pars pro toto is understandable for cognitive and linguistic reason, yet it remains scientifically flawed – not to talk about the ethically problematic tendency to present rabble-rousers as the sole authentic exponents of a given group. 106

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salient concepts in today‘s world, but they are not the sole vectors of collective action. Individuals might share an understanding of who they, as a group, are. Yet, all this does not make our behavior hostage to the fact of belonging. The oft-used assumption of ethnic groups and nations as unitary actors is not justified. One is right to retort that the recent past shows that the issue of ethnicity can move thousands and thousands of people and all too easily turns into a matter of life and death. How could that be if it was not a pervasive phenomenon? The answer, in my view, lies in understanding the process that brought such situations about.

II) THE NATION AS COLLECTIVE ETHNIC IDENTITY? The notion of collective identity has become the placeholder for the anonymous force that apparently makes people stick together to form strong communities.107 Particularly with regard to nationalism, ethnic identity has become the thing supposed to explain why people who have some socially salient trait in common perceive this trait as constitutive for joint social and political action. Group members are said to share definitions and understandings of their interests and predicament because of their collective identity. But some deplore the excessive use of the concept of identity in analyzing collective action. Brubaker and Cooper point out that, in their view, ―the social science and humanities have surrendered to the word ‗identity‘‖ and ―that this has both intellectual and political costs‖ (2000: 1). Maalouf, in his essay Les identités meurtières, tries to shed light on the concept of identity. He complains that its use all too often imposes a fictional oneness and reduces the person to a single dimension of her identity, supposed to be the only ―true‖ one. Yet, identity, from a sociological perspective, is individual and combines personal attributes with one‘s affiliation to various social categories. A person‘s identity is constituted, first of all, by attributes which are considered empirically relevant and unique to her, like physical features and, of course, a name. In addition to that, as social beings, we have an identity because of the social roles by which we are identified. Religion, language, and pigmentation of our skin make us fall into some social categories but not into others and so do our profession, habitat, family, and membership in sports teams or political parties – let alone citizenship, so crucial for one‘s life chances today. A person‘s identity thus is an assemblage of many elements, a mix of individual attributes and affiliations to social categories that is unique and open to changes. Writes Maalouf: ―Ce sont les éléments constitutifs de la personnalité, on pourrait presque dire ‗les gènes de l‘âme‘, à conditions de préciser que la plupart ne sont pas 107

For a history of the semantics surrounding the modern use of the notion of identity, see Gleason (1983).

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innés … jamais on ne retrouve la même combinaison chez deux personnes différentes‖ (1998: 19-20). But, as Maalouf acknowledges, some elements of our identity may at certain moments be of particular significance. The understanding of the richness of one‘s selfhood is variable. Since our identity forms the basis of our dignity and self-respect, being denigrated or discriminated against for a particular trait may momentarily overshadow all other dimensions (Maalouf 1998: 37). But there is more to it than that. Some of the social categories we fall into are more important than others. While individual attributes which are more or less evenly distributed like the color of one‘s eyes or body height are politically meaningless others, like gender, are more important since they define large groups. Some traits receive an extra meaning when the according social categories become politically consequential Therefore, traits constitutive of ethnicity, like language, religion, place of origin or race, are of paramount importance. They can overshadow all other affiliations in one person‘s identity. We can discern two processes that explain how a one-dimensional perception of identity emerges. First, if we feel personally assailed for one particular trait, we tend to perceive ourselves exclusively in terms of this specific category.108 As Hannah Arendt once put it with regard to the fate of European Jewry in the twentieth century: ―If one is attacked as a Jew, one must defend oneself as a Jew‖ (1994: 12). Even though we may be aware that our identity is far more complex, the circumstances can demand that we accept it as determining and surrender all other dimensions of our self to it.109 Indeed, and as we will see, it is far from fortuitous that people are attacked on the basis of ethnic or national identification. What does this tell us for the analysis of the phenomenon of nationalism? Much less than is commonly assumed! The problem is that we do not know how strong people identify, how much they subscribe to or endorse a onedimensional understanding of their identity. To infer from the behavior of some the presence of a collective psyche with causal properties is questionable, to say the least. What we, as observers, can discern however is that collective ethnic identities, foremost among them national ones, direct and give meaning to human A second and related trajectory is possible as well. We may be pushed by others to recognize and admit what we, in their eyes, ―really‖ are. Although this need not be driven by bad intentions, we are called to divulge our true essence which amounts to nothing more than to subscribe to a massively impoverished image of ours. It is this tendency to reduce vast numbers of individuals to a common denominator that stirs Maalouf‘s anger: ―Lorsqu‘on me demande ce que je suis ‗au fin fond de moi-même‘, cela suppose qu‘il y a, ‗au fin fond‘ de chacun, une seule appartenance qui compte, sa ‗vérité profonde‘ en quelque sorte, son ‗essence‘, déterminé une fois pour toutes à la naissance et qui ne changera plus‖ (1998: 10-1). 108

Maalouf uses the image of a tightened skin. One‘s identity is like ―un dessin sur une peau tendue ; qu‘une seule appartenance soit touchée, et c‘est toute la personne qui vibre‖ (1998: 36-7). Yet, this does not necessarily happen as the case the case of European Jewry shows (in fact, this prompted Arendt‘s remark). 109

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behavior. Whereas they confer meaning to actions, events, and experiences, actions in their name or labeled as such sustain and vindicate discourses about them. The hegemony of collective ethnic identity, that is, the stuff that makes a nation in absence of a state, is not given but results from sociopolitical dynamics which have to be investigated. The challenge thereby is to account for the fact that the precise meaning of collective ethnic identity is re-constructed and transformed during this process. An adequate theory has to explain both, the mechanism that imposes ethnicity as dominant collective identity and the phenomenon we term endogeneity. This double-move is captured by my action-into-representation model.

III) THE ETHNIC NATION AS A PROCESS Ethnic groups or nations are a matter of cognition. They are perspectives on the world rather than ways to be in the world (Brubaker 2004). Although we easily succumb to primordialist views and impute them agency, they still are social categories only – their emotional appeal and political relevance notwithstanding. Following Suny‘s trail, Rogers Brubaker, Henry Hale and others have stressed the role of cognition as foundation of a constructivist approach to nationalism and ethnicity. A cognitive perspective implies a shift from ontology toward epistemology. Social categories are not things. They are abstractions used to parse the world and result from intellectual processes and material action which demand to be made sense of. As Brubaker et al. summarize: Rather than take ‗groups‘ as basic units of analysis, cognitive perspectives shift analytical attention to ‗group-making‘ and ‗grouping‘ activities such as classification, categorization, and identification. By their very nature, classifications, categorizations, and identification create ‗groups‘ and assign members to them; but the groups thus created do not exist independently of the myriad acts of classification, categorization, and identification, public and private, through which they are sustained from day to day. Race, ethnicity, and nationality exist only in and through our perceptions, interpretations, representations, classifications, categorizations, and identifications (2004: 45).110 The talk about collective identity has unduly contributed to reify constellations whose social and political salience need to be explained rather than taken for granted. Instead of asking whether a certain phenomenon Whereas, for instance, studies of the institutionalization of classificatory systems and the politics of census taking help to account for how social categories come into being, the connection between these official categories and the selfunderstandings of the people is under-theorized (but Sekulic et al. 1994). In fact, Brubaker et al. suggest that there is ―considerable room for maneuver‖ as people deploy these categories strategically and infuse them with alternative meanings (2004: 35). 110

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is an instance of ethnicity, nationalism, or racism, we have to ask ―how, when, and why people interpret social experience in racial, ethnic, or national terms‖ (Brubaker et al. 2004: 53). We need to understand ―why and how people tend to think and act in terms of macro-level identity categories‖ (Hale 2004: 459). The answer, according to Hale, lies in our limited cognitive capabilities and the need for uncertainty reduction.111 The welter of information we gather through our five senses needs to be sorted, ordered and thus simplified in order to allow us meaningful interactions with our environment. The cognitive process of categorizing people into macro-social entities is a practice we use every day. People rely on such categories ―to navigate the social world they inhabit, to make sense of the myriad constellations of social relationships that they encounter, to discern their place in these constellations, and to understand the opportunities for action in this context‖ (Hale 2004: 463). But cognitive categories are not all the same. Hale argues that ―some identity dimensions can tell an individual more than ‗I am in the category of people,‘ adding, ‗therefore the following things could possibly affect me‘‖ (2004: 468). Compared to classes of inanimate things, like objects we find to fall into the category ―table‖, social classifications are somewhat variable and might acquire ―a great deal of ‗extra‘ meaning‖ when the situation requires a radical simplification of our lifeworld (Hale 2004: 470). In complex situations when economic crisis hits or armed conflict erupts, ethnicity is readily available and helps us to stabilize expectation in social relations. An insecure social world that seems to have lost its moorings becomes navigable again by invoking the naturalness and stability we associate with interactions in the nuclear family. However, here it is projected on an anonymous people. From this perspective ethnicity is an outstanding social category, for three reasons. The presence of diacritical markers allows us to render the world into a binary system that distinguishes between ―us‖ and ―them‖ – the flood of information is made manageable. Its appeal is also explained by the normative imperative to show solidarity that comes with the idea of ethnicity as constitutive of a superfamily (see Johnson 1997). Moreover, the political relevance of ethnicity gives additional weight to its role as a personal reference point. Ethnicity thus becomes a rule of thumb helping us to make sense and respond to a variety of problems we are confronted with although these might not have much to do with ethnicity per se. ―Ethnicity,‖ as Hale puts it, ―is a certain kind of social radar‖ (2004: 473). Depending on circumstances people turn to it for help. A cognitive approach thus hints at why ethnicity becomes a focal point for collective action. But it has nothing to say about the meaning attached to it – essential to understand the direction collective action will take.

Social psychology is said to have provided the ―experimental confirmation for the assumption that uncertainty reduction is a fundamental human motivation driving the nearly universal tendency for humans to divide themselves into groups‖ (Hale 2004: 464). 111

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Ethnic groups, writes Nagel, are sustained by the cultural ―construction of boundaries and the production of meaning‖ (1994: 153; see also Barth 1969). The former answers the question of ―Who we are?‖ and is supposed to establish the boundaries with other groups through markers that signal belonging. The latter refers to a group‘s culture and answers the question ―What we are?‖ (Nagel 1994: 162). Nagel likens ethnicities to a shopping cart: ―We can think of ethnic boundary construction as determining the shape of the shopping cart (size, number of wheels, composition, etc.); ethnic culture, then, is composed of the things we put into the cart – art, music, dress, religion, norms, beliefs, symbols, myths, customs‖ (Nagel 1994: 162, her emphasis). Ethnic culture, contrary to what anthropology used to maintain, is not homogenous and given but a variable. An ethnic culture, Nagel states, ―is not a shopping cart that comes to us already loaded with a set of historical cultural goods. Rather we construct culture by picking and choosing items from the shelves of the past and present‖ (1994: 162). But this is not without consequences for how the boundaries are drawn. Ethnic boundaries ―wax and wane,‖ they are fluid and situational (Nagel 1994: 161, 152). Although the categories differentiating people into ethnic groups appear quite rigid, as implied by the shopping cart analogy, changing representations of what we are render boundaries more complex. They may lead to shifts in the way these are drawn. Some of those formerly included might now be excluded or vice-versa notwithstanding ideas of common descent. It is as if the cart changes its size depending on what we load onto it. Collective identity, owing to its different representations, is layered and projects a more or less inclusive image of the community. Different representations of what we are coexist. Which prevails is a matter of politics. This, in turn, may or may not have consequences for the shared understanding of who we are. Students of ethnicity and nationalism concede that national identities are subject to qualitative change. Van Evera, for one, argues that although the ―basic direction of most identities – an identification as German or Basque or Croat or French – is quite fixed, … the texture or flavor of identities can be reconstructed‖ (2001: 22). Nations are historical constructions and as such their appearance is shaped by stories about the past in light of present challenges. As Suny points out: It is important to remember that nations are congealed histories. They are made up of stories that people tell about their past and thereby determine who they are. … What is remembered, what has been forgotten or repressed, provides the template through which the world is understood. Nationalist violence or inter-ethnic cooperation and tolerance depend on what narrative, what tales of injustice, oppression, or betrayal are told (1997). These narratives, once established, are not impervious to change. What is actually invoked out of a broad array of stories and what clues to look for in the past is an ever contested domain and subject to variations which take place in the short-term. As Suny continues: …nations can be reconceived as fields of culture within which various actors compete over the meaning of the nation and, dare we forget, for power within the nation. As Foucault, following 77

Marx and Gramsci, taught us decades ago, meaning and power are intimately connected, for who holds power will often determine meaning, and in the political arena a contender that can determine meaning has a unique claim to power. Nations are sites of cultural conflicts over meaning, identity and values, aspirations and hopes, that is goals and interests … These struggles over meaning and power are ongoing and all-important (1997). It is important to note however that ―the political and intellectual actors can only borrow, adapt, and reproduce the discourses available to them – or, in rarer instance, create from available material a new discursive synthesis‖ (Suny 1993: 13). In sum, people might know who they are, that is, they are aware as to which group or category of people they belong to. Yet, what precisely it means to belong is subject to political struggles. Collective identities, whether national or ethnic, look different depending on circumstances. Or, to paraphrase a now famous catchphrase of constructivist international relations theory, ethnicity is what people make of it. Somer (2005) has sought to capture the variations in the quality of identity in binary terms, namely, ―rival‖ and ―compatible‖ concepts. Under the compatible definition individuals believe, for instance, that ―one can both be Scottish and British, or Kurdish and Turkish‖ and consider these identities as mutually beneficial. The definition of identities as rival implies that they are considered mutually exclusive and that respective group interests and preferences are conflicting (Somer 2005: 118, his emphasis). This, however, is not without consequences for what makes a Scot a Scot in distinction to a Briton or a Kurd a Kurd in distinction to a Turk.112 Rival identities can be expected to be more rigid than compatible ones in the way they determine who does or does not belong to the nation or the ethnic group in question. This, as the case studies here presented bear out, may even lead to a fragmentation of the nation. In sum, group boundaries and concepts of meaning interact, but their interaction is not straightforward. The less the categories establishing who one is are defined by diacritical markers the more the potential answers to what it means to belong will have an impact on boundaries.113 Identity is about power and thus struggles over meaning are central to politics. Yet, which one prevails in one situation or another is a matter of behavior rather than contemplation. It is actions in line with the behavioral script suggested by a specific representation that make one identity concept salient over others. In other words, meaning is mediated by action. But how to explain the transformation of collective identity in the face of

For instance, how many of the allegedly 25 million Kurds identify themselves as Kurd is difficult to know. For instance, there a many who have assimilated into the Turkish nation while others have ―rediscovered‖ their identity in the face of state oppression. Certainly, there is pressure to identify. Notes Natali, Kurds who ―differentiate themselves from Arabs, Turks, and Persians are considered good Kurds, conscious of their nationalist identity.‖ Others, like diasporic Kurds or the ones who are loyal to the state and government and do not have a nationalist consciousness are often considered ―bad Kurds, tribes, and traitors‖ (Natali 2005: xxi). 112

Social boundaries drawn by membership in states (citizenship) or through adherence to one of the monotheistic religions seem to be comparatively stable. Here differentiating behavior is enforced by respective institutions that is, state and church or, in the case of Islam, specific practices. 113

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a dominant perception of ethnic groups and nations that sees them as fixed entities with age-old qualities? What mechanisms are likely to account for shifts, and how do they impact on the way boundaries are drawn? These questions are all the more important since changes in shared representations of collective ethnic identity determine conflict dynamics among groups.

IV) THE ACTION-INTO-REPRESENTATION MODEL Although ethnicity seems to be the factor that endows nations with a consciousness and thus agency, it reveals itself as an elusive concept. There are reasons to doubt that ethnicity in and of itself has causal properties – no more than its political manifestation, the nation. Therefore, rather than inferring the existence of a mighty yet somewhat mysterious belief-system from observed behavior, we had better try to understand how collective representations are shaped and supported by actions framed in and rendered meaningful by social categories that structure our lifeworld. This is what the action-into-representation model is all about. The way it works can be seen in analogy to the properties of a magnetic field in physics. In order to visualize the force and structure of a magnetic field a common experiment goes as follows: we sprinkle a quantity of identical iron flakes on a cardboard and from underneath approach a strong bar magnet. The flakes immediately arrange along the magnetic field lines displaying its characteristic pattern. This happens because of the force the field exerts on them. We can say that the magnetic field has causal properties – it causes the flakes to position themselves in a distinctive way. Due to their inertia they remain in this position even when the bar magnet is removed. Much of the thinking about nations and nationalism follows a similar approach. Ethnicity is conceptualized as an abstract force with causal properties. Mediated by shared beliefs, it determines peoples‘ behavior and gives them a collective direction. This helps to explain why nationalism is such a powerful ideology with the ability to move millions. Behavior, however, that does not conform to this view is highly irritating and during the past two centuries there were not a few nationalists who despaired at the recalcitrance of their co-nationals to conform to the supposedly most natural way of human organization.114 With some intellectual ingenuity this deficiency was patched by recourse to Hegelian dialectics. Nations like classes could be ―in themselves‖ and ―for themselves‖ – whereas the former just are, the latter have attained a consciousness of their communal existence. For those endeavoring to ―awake‖ the nation, it is a sleeping beauty. In terms of the model, it is as if we had only to tell

In Italy lack of nationalist zeal among the common people came to be perceived among elites as a sign of civilizational backwardness in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century (see Duggan 2008). 114

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the flakes in the magnetic field that the field exists in order to make them move and transform from a bunch of similar particles into a directed structure. Indeed, education was always considered the key to national revival. A better way to account for the incongruities is to inject a dose of realism into the model. What if there is no magnetic field that exerts a force but only a belief that such a force is extant? And what if the inanimate iron flakes albeit identical in their look are actually endowed with individual consciousness, self-interest, and reflect their actions? This, in terms of the magnetic field analogy, raises further questions. How, under such conditions, is it possible to arrive at an overall pattern in which the flakes arrange as if field lines were actually exerting force? In fact, rather than taking the force of ethnicity and the nation as given we have to address the question of how people behave according to a particular script. What we need is a different approach, one that ―conceives of these formations at all stages of development as being constituted by myriad social and intellectual processes, by various forms of collective action‖ (Suny 1993: 16). The action-into-representation model I propose conceives of these processes as struggles over meaning fought with concrete action and mediated by dominant cognitive categories. Thereby, action and the meaning adduced to it are separate yet interdependent dimensions. Understood that way, the process of collective identity formation and transformation faces a meta-theoretical challenge. The overall social constellation that emerges in the struggle over meaning cannot be reduced to the sum of individual actions while individual level behavior cannot be entirely explained by the presence of a macrosocial entity we project on that constellation. The projected entity does only seem to have a life of its own by virtue of the underlying individual level processes. It derives its supposed causal powers from there. Both, the individual and the collective level are intrinsically related but distinct. It is a conceptual puzzle that is known in philosophy as ―supervenience‖ that is, ―the relationship between two kinds of properties that things may have‖ (Blackburn 2000: 872). As Blackburn explains, the concept of supervenience, refers to the way in which one kind of property may only be present in virtue of the presence of some other kind: a thing can only possess a property of the first, supervening kind because it has the properties of the underlying kind, but once the underlying kind is fixed, then the properties of the first kind are fixed as well. The supervening features exist only because of the underlying, or ‗subjacent‘ properties, and these are sufficient to determine how the supervening features come out (2000: 872). For instance, the quality of a person as ―good‖ is based on observable attributes like being kind or generous. The characterization as ―good‖ supervenes on a behavior that is perceived as kind or generous yet this does not make the label ―good‖ redundant. Being a good person implies notions of integrity and dedication which are not observable either but project a moral wholeness which is more than the sum of the acts posed by the person in question.

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Consequently and with regard to the phenomenon of nation and nationalism, we find that the properties of a nation as a collective actor are derived from individual actions that appear to follow a shared script. But such a script can only elicit and direct individual behavior, it cannot determine collective action since the causal powers we impute to the nation are exclusively situated on the individual level. The argument for the transformation of collective identity, it follows, has to be conceptualized in a non-essentialist way. It has to combine separate yet interdependent shifts in peoples‘ behavior and collective self-representations which impose a script of how to behave appropriately as member of an ethnic group or a nation.

SUMMARY Cognitive categories defined by ethnicity have an exceptional appeal. It is in form of the nation that ethnicity fully realizes its political potential. Ethnicities, as we have seen, constitute powerful collective identities which help to legitimize the state as measured against the template of the nation-state. Conversely, as oppositional force, nationalism holds the potential to delegitimize the state and thus the current order. Ethnonational collective identity, however, is contested rather than given. Therefore, politics, understood as a struggle for legitimacy is, above all, a struggle for the meaning of what we, as a nation, are. In terms of my magnetic field analogy, the argument I advance is that absent an autonomous magnetic force some of the ―iron flakes‖ who strongly believe in its existence will attempts to create a situation in which it appears as if such a force actually existed – all this with the goal to make the other ―flakes‖ position themselves along the putative force lines. It is the story of how minority action, mediated by cognitive categories, triggers reactions within the majority that, in turn, shape collective representations. While I deny that ethnicity in and of itself determines behavior, it is beyond doubt that it endows human action with meaning and thus gives it a direction. Conversely, actions interpreted as ethnic may render certain ideas of what we are salient over others. Ultimately, collective identity formation is a function of behavioral patterns that vindicate the collective representation projected by a minority. As a rule, any discourse, in order to resonate with its audiences, requires to be mediated by observable facts. We expect that in nationalist conflicts oppositional forces will attempt to alter people‘s behavior so as to be meaningful in view of a self-image that stresses themes of rivalry if not enmity rather than accommodation and integration. In view of the struggle for legitimacy that interests me here, I argue that militant nationalists seek to impose a combative and uncompromising image of the nation which they believe they best represent. They achieve a

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transformation of collective self-representation when the behavioral script inherent to the identity concept they promote materializes in collective action – something they themselves have to organize and instigate. People have to experience and enact collective identity in order for it to be salient. Where militants succeed in imposing their view on their constituency they gain legitimacy and, as a consequence, the balance of power shifts in their favor. Success, however, depends on their strategy and the sociopolitical context of the struggle. It is here that the armed struggle comes into focus. Violent incidences justify first movers in their actions and lend credence to the dissociative image projected of intergroup relations. Notwithstanding what the majority of the membership actually believes, given the salience of ethnic categories, escalating violence and fear of victimization trigger a process in which an increasing number of people shift toward non-cooperation with the authorities and/or those considered Others. Such a process is self-enforcing. People begin to exclude each other from their social, political, and economic interactions thus compounding mutual distrust. The normative force of the factual divides communities – a process which may not only transform their look but reconfigure the extension of their boundaries. The more people yield to the pressures and cease cooperation, the more the idea that ―what we are‖ requires noncooperation comes to dominate collective self-representation. As we are going to see in the case studies, collective action or better, re-action, instigated with the goal to promote a more assertive collective self may lead to unintended effects in the way identity is transformed. In terms of the magnetic field model, the attempt to make people behave according to the force field of nationalism has to content with other forces, namely the presence of political boundaries which restrict the scope of action and thus of collective experience.

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CHAPTER THREE: THE STRATEGY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE

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INTRODUCTION Why do militant nationalists resort to violence in fighting the state? Defeating the state by physical force alone is unlikely. So why do they take the risk of challenging an all too powerful Leviathan whose wrath might prove fatal to them? The answer lies in the political rationale underpinning the use of violence. Armed non-state actors, whether we call them terrorists, guerrillas or by whatever other fancy label, have in common an ―extreme weakness in coercive capabilities‖ (Crenshaw 1983: 25). In those types of intrastate or domestic conflicts variously labeled insurgency, rebellion, or civil war, violence alone will hardly bring success. It is by focusing on its political instrumentality that this phenomenon, apparently bereft of efficacy, becomes intelligible. The key is to understand the political dimension of violence. The analysis of the political strategy guiding its use allows us to better grasp how it works and to explain why non-state actors have (successfully) recourse to it. The strategic analysis of political violence has to start with its purpose. I assume that non-state actors turn to political violence in order to induce a shift in the domestic balance of power. While they ultimately aim at a fundamental transformation of the status quo, like revolutionary change or territorial separation, in the short run they seek to improve their standing vis-à-vis the state they confront. The proximate goal is to increase their power and thus their leverage over the state‘s decision-making process. I argue that in intrastate conflicts the use of violence as a means in the political struggle by far trumps the goal of physical destruction of the enemy‘s military capabilities. Whatever their differences, armed non-state actors, in their struggle against the state, employ political violence. With regard to nationalist conflicts, the ones that interest me here, political violence can be defined as acts of deliberate violence by non-state actors against persons or objects in the name of a stateless nation and in pursuit of a nationalist cause. In order to avoid confusion, some clarifications are needed. Political violence is defined here as an attempt to acquire political power by means of premeditated violence against persons or objects. It is not structural, as I pointed out before. It is directed at the state, its representatives, and symbols, but might also target key constituencies or more generally those populations the state claims to represent, has responsibility for, and is supposed to protect. Violence employed by non-state actors challenges the state‘s monopoly on the use of physical force. Therefore, it is illegal albeit not necessarily illegitimate. Moreover, nationalist conflicts display particular features with regard to the use of political violence. In addition to the authorities, the group perceived to own the state and control the levers of power – for this the Soviet Union coined the notion of ―titular nation‖ – is designated as opponent. The mere ascription of ethnocultural identity rather than a specific role in the conflict defines a legitimate target. Also, since the struggle is construed as pitting whole populations against

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each other, its basis is much broader than in conflicts organized around ideologies stressing social class. Horizontal segmentation dominates rather than vertical stratification along lines of class or party. Regarding the theoretical discussion that follows, the theory here presented draws heavily on the literature on terrorism rather than on writings on guerrilla warfare. This is because the theory of guerrilla warfare tends to overestimate the military aspects of violence and, as I already mentioned, the debate on violence in ethnic conflict pays insufficient attention to its very use. In contrast, the debate on terrorism – despite the elusiveness of the concept itself – has repeatedly addressed the question of its quality as a political strategy and thus is useful to unearth the role of violence in nationalist conflicts. The questions I intend to answer are the following: What is the reasoning behind attacks on the state from a position of weakness? How does political violence in the name of the nation relate to the nationalist struggle? In short, how and why is political violence politically instrumental in nationalist conflict? In answering these questions, I suggest that while military clout may be said to confer power because of its coercive nature, political power is of a different kind. In the form of legitimacy it also has non-material, that is, normative sources, which can be tapped by the weaker side through the use of violence. The crux is that even under conditions of extreme asymmetry between contenders, the disadvantaged party can prevail.115 Military dominance can be offset by a political victory brought about by armed force. At the heart of my conceptualization of the strategy of political violence lie two distinct logics: legitimacy and tyranny. In On Violence Hannah Arendt famously distinguishes ―power‖ from ―violence‖. Power, she claims, ―corresponds to the human ability not just to act but to act in concert. Power is never the property of an individual; it belongs to a group and remains in existence only so long as the group keeps together‖ (1970: 44).116 To this she juxtaposes her concept of violence which, like physical strength, is instrumental and always in the singular. Violence, she claims, destroys power – it can never be a source of it, as Mao erroneously suggested (1970: 53).117 The threat of violence in order to elicit obedience is not an instantiation of power but violence. In fact, violence or the threat of it may diminish the power of those employing it. While I do not entirely share Arendt‘s contention, which is a normative one, I nonetheless perceive here a fundamental distinction that should be heeded in the study of politics. Arendt, one could say, points out two

115

Asymmetry, as said before, is military as well as political.

116

According to Arendt, force – usually a property of natural phenomena – is a product of collective action.

117

Mao Zedong is said to have stated that ―Political power grows out of the barrel of a gun.‖

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different sources of power. One is coercive, an instance of social control based on latent threats of bodily harm. It is how tyranny operates. The other emerges out of popular consent based on the mutual recognition of shared interest and purpose. This type of power lends legitimacy to a social order. Contrary to Arendt, I argue that the latter can emerge out of the former. This occurs when violence induces a state to inadvertently undermine its own legitimacy by resorting to coercion in response to it. This, for reasons that should be clear by now, is of particular relevance to nationalist conflicts In view of these contentions four ideas will guide my reflection on political violence in nationalist conflict. First, militant nationalists want a separate state. But the gap separating means and ends calls for intermediate steps which are more proximate and demand acquiring political power. Second, political violence by non-state actors in intrastate conflicts follows either one of two political logics: legitimacy or tyranny, with tyranny being less sustainable than legitimacy. Third, power conferred by legitimacy springs from the people – by winning over and shaping the constituency the militants claim to fight for. As argued before, in nationalist conflict alienating the nation from the state and assuming its representation are key to the struggle for power. Fourth, in order to produce legitimacy, political violence has to be of an indirect sort, mediated by a repressive state. Tyranny, by contrast, is based on direct violence and aims at coercing the state through the imposition of costs.118 In what follows I begin by presenting the two types of logics that a strategy of political violence will follow namely, legitimacy and tyranny. This is followed by a conceptual discussion that justifies the way I devised these two types. I then explain what strategy means when we talk about political violence. Next, I turn to the debate on terrorism in which I retrace the logics of tyranny and legitimacy. Finally, I address the phenomenon of violence in nationalist conflicts. The overall claim is that the idea of violence as a means to provoke identityforming repression is at the heart of a legitimacy-seeking strategy of political violence.

I) THE STRATEGY OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE: A MODEL Political violence is used by non-state actors in a struggle that opposes them to a state. Whatever the goals they ultimately pursue, for the sake of the strategic analysis the assumption is that they seek to increase their political power. The overall distribution of power advantages the state. It has political legitimacy and superior military capabilities. While armed non-state actors will not match its military might they can make political gains. The question they face is how to prevail politically when their firepower is limited? Which strategies to

118

Coercion of members of one‘s constituency, as we will see, may play a role too.

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shift the balance of power are available? How, from their perspective, violence can be of help? In general terms, they may proceed along two dimensions. On the one hand, violence can help armed non-state actors to manipulate the cost/benefit calculus of the authorities. The state is directly targeted whether by attacks on its personnel, infrastructure, or its citizens. It succeeds once, in the eyes of the authorities, the costs thus created outweigh the price of political concessions in compliance with the demands of the opposition.119 The expectation of mounting costs, given the presence of a credible threat to go to great lengths, makes a state concede. Violence allows to gain a certain measure of control over the government‘s actions and highlights the opposition‘s prowess. Generating an ―exaggerated impression of insurgent strength and regime weakness‖ turns the tables on the government when it encourages support from a population that would otherwise stick to the status quo (McCormick and Giordano 2007: 297). It is highly efficient because the investment required for the organization of violence is small compared to the costs the state incurs in suffering attacks. In sum, violence is used to intimidate the state and, by coercing concessions, to offset the balance of power. The idea of terrorism as ―weapon of the weak‖ assumes precisely such a rationale. The strategy of political violence, in other words, follows a logic of tyranny.120 On the other hand, violence, it has been suggested, can benefit the opposition in indirect ways. This happens when violence provokes the state into indiscriminate repression of those sections of the population that constitute the opposition‘s constituency. In the eyes of those victimized, the state loses legitimacy. The winner is the opposition whose claims as to the deceitful and vicious character of the state are vindicated. In short, armed non-state actors force the state‘s hand in order to elicit a reaction that furthers their cause. As Che Guevara wrote: ―The dictatorship tries to function without resorting to force so we must try to oblige it to do so, thereby unmasking its true nature … This event will deepen the struggle…‖ (Guevara [1963] 2003: 75). The payoff the opposition reaps is political legitimacy – in itself a powerful asset but also a key to receive support when need arises. Indeed, Crenshaw perceives in ―the ability of the terrorist organization to become a legitimate force within the state‖ one of the major political benefits of violence (1983: 32). She argues that where the state ―cannot be challenged militarily on the level of physical force. … the power of terrorism is through political legitimacy‖ (Crenshaw 1983: 25). Violence, from this perspective, follows a logic of legitimacy.

Some of these demands, however, will be impossible to fulfill. Groups inspired by millenarist ideologies are impossible to accommodate. Their goals amount to a negation of politics. 119

According to dictonary.com, tyranny, among other things, is defined as ―the arbitrary or unrestrained exercise of power; despotic abuse of authority‖ or a metaphor for ―undue severity or harshness.‖ 120

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I suggest the following two-fold conceptualization of the strategy of political violence against the state as employed by armed non-state actors:

Logic of Tyranny

Strategy Violence Goal Mechanism

Logic of Legitimacy

Intimidation Coercive (Direct) Power through Concessions

Provocation Repressive (Indirect) Power through Legitimacy

Cost/Benefit Calculus

Identity Transformation

Table 2: Logic of Legitimacy and Logic of Tyranny

Violence, following a logic of tyranny, works by coercing the authorities into concessions which lead to a shift in the balance of power by inflating the strength of the opposition. The underlying mechanism is a cost/benefit calculus that takes into account future pay-offs. The strategy of violence here is one of intimidation. According to a logic of legitimacy violence benefits the opposition by provoking overreaction of the authorities in response to violent provocations. This undermines the latter‘s legitimacy and fosters the legitimation of the opposition. The underlying mechanism here is a transformation of collective identity, as I am going to show. Here, violence operates indirectly and produces power through legitimacy, which is a matter of identity. In a nutshell, violence is used strategically because of its potential to provide control over the state‘s actions which, as political power, can be leveraged against it.121 Comparing both logics with regard to its efficiency I argue that tyranny is not as sustainable as legitimacy for its political gains solely depend on the credibility of the threat. It has been suggested that coercion, whether of the state or the people, can create popular support by way of a bandwagon effect (see McCormick and Giordano 2007; Varshney 2003; Laitin 1995). Yet, support can mean a lot of things (see Paul 2010) and having people not do anything and lay down low might even be preferable to either of the opponents. Legitimacy, by contrast, is a crucial resource in political struggles for it is a normative notion. As I have argued, political legitimacy is about the validity of power rules which, in our times, are founded on the principle of popular sovereign and thus on the idea of the nation. The legitimation achieved through a strategy of provocation is far more effective than a strategy of intimidation because before being directed against the state it is for the people. It draws on the productive rather than on the destructive dimension of violence.

121

For a different perspective, see Tilly (2003).

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A few caveats have to be mentioned nonetheless. First, the strategy of intimidation is not limited to the state. It can also be directed at members of the opposition‘s constituency in order to police them effectively. It is used to tame internal opposition, create a semblance of unity, and deter treason. Intra-group violence has been repeatedly mentioned but I tend to believe that if widespread it signals the opposition‘s defeat more than anything else (see, e.g., Metelits 2009; Hovil and Werker 2005).122 Second, the model is about ideal typical strategies of political violence. This implies that in reality elements of both strategies will intersect since politics is never exclusively a matter of coercion but always has a normative dimension to it. Third, as a model, my approach is limited in scope. Neither the move away from non-violent toward violent forms of dissent nor the variation in types of violence are at issue here (but see de la Calle 2007; Della Porta and Tarrow 1986; Waldmann 1985). Also, the model has nothing to say about the state‘s reactions which, under both logics, remain crucial, of course (but see Davenport et al. 2005). I assume the presence of what Davenport (2007: 7) coins the ―Law of Coercive Responsiveness‖, that is, authorities generally employ some form of repressive action to counter behavioral threats to the status quo. Fourth, and closely related to the last point: any strategy may or may not meet its objective. The government‘s response can cause a fatal blow to armed non-state actors. It can crack down on them dismantling their organization; repression can alienate the people from the opposition; policies in response to violence can avoid ―to play the game‖ and be devised in a way that isolate and confine its authors in their marginal position. In short, political violence can backfire. For either of both logics to operate certain conditions have to be present with regard to the target of violence that is, the state. First, the strategy of intimidation depends on the credibility of the threat to repeat or escalate the violence if concessions are not forthcoming. Since the destructive capacity of armed non-state actors is small, the immediate impact will be limited. For the state it will hardly be more than a nuisance. It is only on the long haul that the costs will have an intimidating effect. Here the psychological effect of what we call ―terrorism‖ comes into play. Using violence to provoke strong emotional reactions within a given population is a tactical move under a strategy following the logic of tyranny aimed at the state‘s cost/benefit calculus. 123 A strategy of intimidation thus depends on the costs the authorities anticipate if nothing is done to address the situation.

The Viet-Minh and later the Viet-Cong were notorious for there killings of collaborators and those suspected of it (Polk 2007: 173). In Algeria the FLN killed more than 16 000 Muslims and only about 2 700 ―Europeans‖ (Pervillé 2012: 113). In Palestine, between 1987 and 1994, about 1 000 suspected collaborators were killed – and only a handful since (Rudoren 2012). And on Cyprus the small EOKA is said to have effectively used assassination in the 1950s to enforce noncooperation with the British on the part of the local Greek population (Price 1977: 58). As to my knowledge this phenomenon has rarely been the subject of scholarly research. 122

Terrorism, in the narrow sense of the term, thus is not a strategy in its own right. It is its capacity to create terror that raises costs to intimidate the state or provoke a strong reaction. 123

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Second, violence following a logic of legitimacy requires the state to indiscriminately retaliate in response to violent provocations. Were it to solely apprehend its authors, the effect would be next to naught. ―Ideally,‖ writes Thornton, ―suppression should be accomplished by routine methods of law enforcement, but if the terrorists are effective – and especially if the incumbents perceive themselves to be in a crisis situation – it is almost inevitable that extraordinary repressive measures will be taken. … incumbents will be forced to take measures that affect not only the terrorist but also his environment, the society as a whole‖ (1964: 86-7). The problem, according to McCormick and Giordano, is one of intelligence: The state ―is generally able to hit what it sees, but it has a limited ability to see what it wishes to hit‖ (2007: 308).124 As a consequence, repression is likely to abuse innocent people and radicalize uncommitted individuals. Crenshaw sees this as the dilemma of law enforcement in the face of terrorism: In the initial stage of terrorism, it is difficult to acquire useful information about the conspiracy. Ignorant of who the terrorists are – and they are typically a small number – the government is tempted to arrest the opponents it knows and to arrest indiscriminately. Suspects from familiar opposition movements are arrested, interrogated, even held in preventive detention. Few of those caught off guard are terrorists (who are the only ones prepared for repression) (1983: 1920). In nationalist or ethnic conflict the negative effects of repression are exacerbated by the very structure of the struggle. When the state is seen as controlled by a different community arrests are easily perceived as discriminatory and demeaning – a sign of distrust and guilt by association that highlights the division between communities and speaks to claims that denounce the oppressive nature of the state. Indeed, lacking precise information on militants, authorities are likely to direct their repression against the ones in whose name violence was committed discriminating on the basis of ascriptive membership only. The practice of ―ethnic profiling‖ is tempting for the relevant information can easily be obtained. All kinds of markers are available to identify the targets of repression: official documents specifying ethnonational belonging, phenotypic differences, spoken language and even small differences in dress code or other habits.125 State repression in nationalist conflicts ―often involve humiliating, and even violent, measures that are applied to a population at large, engendering tremendous resentment…. of the government‖ (Byman 1998: 155). In the Basque Country, between 1960 and 1976, the Francoist regime resorted to a massive campaign of By contrast, the ―insurgents … enter the game with an information advantage and a force disadvantage. They are generally able to see what they wish to hit, but have a limited ability to hit what they see‖ (McCormick and Giordano 2007: 308). 124

In ethnic conflicts examples for the use of markers to identify targets abound. ID-cards specifying ethnicity played a tragic role in the Rwandan genocide (Keane 1997). In the Anti-Armenian pogroms in Azerbaijan even minor differences in the pronunciation of certain Russian words were used to identify the victims (de Waal 2003: 130). In Iraq personal names, place of residence, and worshipping practices helped to tell Sunnis from Shiites. Even license plates are said to have been employed as indicator for religious affiliation – license plates from Basra suggested that Shiites were in the cars while those with licence plates from Anbar province were likely to belong to Sunnis (Gosh 2007). 125

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incarceration. In the majority of the cases people were apprehended for the only reason that they were Basque and thus considered suspect – potential separatists or terrorists (Jauréguiberry 2007: 228-9). In Northern Ireland it was the practice of detention without trial, introduced in late summer 1971 and known as ―Internment‖, which stirred resentment among Irish republican Catholics.126 Yet, the impact of repression is even more dramatic when the authorities use brute force in response to the militant challenge. The experience of Northern Ireland is a case in point. Between 1969 and 1989 the British security forces were responsible for the deaths of about 178 civilians – most of them identified as Catholics and thus on the Irish republican side – and 123 armed Irish republican militants (O‘Duffy and O‘Leary 1990). Although the victims of the security forces account for only a small percentage of the overall death toll, they had enormous political costs. Incidences like the one known as Bloody Sunday became ―definite events from which many people take their understanding of the role of the British state in Northern Ireland‖ (White and White 1995: 331).127 This happened despite London‘s overall strategy ―not to have incidents or to create martyrs‖ (Kirk-Smith and Dingley 2009: 556, 567). The interviews with agents of the Royal Ulster Constabulary‘s (RUC) Special Branch – the counter-terrorism unit of the Northern Ireland police force – conducted by Kirk-Smith and Dingley show that the authorities were acutely aware of the need to avoid casualties. When, for instance, a bomb squad of the Provisional IRA was killed by the SAS in Gibraltar in 1988, they bemoan that, the three would-be bombers became martyrs as the police investigations, coroner‘s courts, judicial courts, enquiries, appeals to the European Courts of Human Rights and TV documentaries rumbled on for years. The security forces and British government were turned from being defenders of civil liberties and the rule of law into appearing to be the underminers of such things and the proponents of extra-judicial killings on the streets, which in turn helped legitimise the terrorists (Kirk-Smith and Dingley 2009:568). Circumspection notwithstanding, the repression worked against the British presence in Northern Ireland.128

With regard to the British internment policy in Northern Ireland Crenshaw claims that ―internment centers … were frequently dubbed ideal recruiting camps for the IRA. Prisoners who were not members when they went in were when they came out‖ (1983: 19-20). 126

On 30 January 1972 British army personnel shot 26 unarmed demonstrators at a rally in Derry. Thirteen were killed whereas another person died a few months later of her injuries. The details of the shootings have stirred controversy ever since. In 2010 British Prime Minister David Cameron, based on a report commissioned by his predecessor Tony Blair, apologized for the actions of the paratroopers which he called ―unjustified‖ (Burns 2010). 127

On the ground agents, more than once, got out of hand and tarnished the efforts of the authorities to limit the negative consequences of repression. The political backlash led to what Kirk-Smith and Dingley‘s interviewees interpreted as the de facto defeat of the Good Friday Agreements of 1998 which, according to them, brought ―terrorists in government‖ (2009: 571). 128

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Averting or even containing the negative consequences arising from state repression in conflicts involving nationalist or ethnic demands is extremely difficult.129 Policies in response to violent attacks that target the militants‘ constituency are easily perceived as indiscriminate repression and collective victimization. If uncommitted individuals are harmed, the state‘s actions are almost certain to prove politically self-defeating. That intrastate conflicts are fought, above all, over the hearts and minds of people is now commonplace, as the debate on counterinsurgency shows (see, e.g., US Army 2006).130 That people‘s identity has to be taken into account might be regarded as a truism today. This was not always so. ―Logically,‖ Mao Zedong found, ―a national war should win broader mass support than an agrarian revolutionary war‖ ([1938] 2009: 202). In spite of adhering to a materialist ideology, he understood the potential if not the necessity to exploit the repressive policies of the Japanese occupiers to gain legitimacy in the name of defending the national cause – not only at home but also abroad. As he pointed out: ―The Japanese are waging a barbaric war along uncivilized lines. …because China‘s cause is righteous, our countrymen of all classes and parties are united to oppose the invader; we have sympathy in many foreign countries including even Japan itself. This is perhaps the most important reason why Japan will lose and China will win‖ (Mao [1937] 1989: 70). The legitimacy conveyed by the struggle‘s nationalist character was to be the very foundation of victory. Political modernity holds that legitimacy ultimately rests with the people. A state who subdues a community it does not represent or lashes out at its own citizens undermines its political standing and forfeits its legitimacy. Therefore, any form of repression perceived as excessive because life-threatening will play into the hands of those contesting the status quo. In nationalist conflicts this inevitably begs the question as to not only ―who‖ but ―what‖ the people is in whose name an opposition raises claims (see Laitin and Suny 1999). Hence, it should not come as a surprise that Byman (1998) insists that one of the main objectives of ―ethnic terrorism‖ is to create identity. Violence may not achieve ―its maximal objectives of an independent state, free of unwanted outsiders,‖ but it ―helps to keep ethnic identities alive‖ (Byman 1998: 153).

As we will see below, in the case of the FLQ and particularly during the October Crisis of 1970 we find authorities anxious not to offer the nationalists with any pretext that may vindicate their claims. 129

A common policy in the presence of a hostile population was to separate the people from the rebels by force. ―In Malaya first and then in Vietnam, experiments were tried to so isolate the people that the rebels could not reach them. In Malaya the British even prevented villagers from coking their own food so that they could not pass any of it to the rebels; in Kenya the British put about 150,000 people in concentration camps; in Vietnam the Americans forced virtually the entire rural population to move out of their villages into strategic hamlets, ap-chien-luoc” (Polk 2007: xxiii). In fact, these policies were clear signs that legitimacy and therefore popular support had already been lost. 130

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Although it is problematic to infer causes from outcomes, the idea of nationalist conflict as a struggle for legitimacy highlights the pivotal role of collective identity and explains why it becomes a focus of strategic armed action. In nationalist conflicts provocations which make security forces overreact help to turn the state‘s might against itself as it encourages the nationalization of collective ethnic identity. Militants facing up to the authorities are empowered for they fight for a righteous cause – national liberation. Having talked all along about political violence as a strategy, I will now return to the concept itself in order to justify its use in the present analysis.

II) THE STRATEGIC ANALYSIS OF POLITICAL VIOLENCE Political violence, by definition, is purposive. It is an instrument in a political struggle. In intrastate conflicts the outbreak of violence marks a departure from the norm of non-violent contention.131 But what does it mean to analyze it in terms of strategy? Strategy in politics, as I understand it here, ―describes the choices that allow available means to be turned into desired ends. … It is about the sources of advantage in political relationships, the process of turning capacity into effects‖ (Freedman 2007: 318). The realm of strategy is located in the gap separating means and ends. The wider the gap, that is, the less the available means allow the immediate attainment of an end the more strategizing is important. As intermediate steps are inserted in the process, a long-term perspective has to be taken. Moreover, strategy is interdependent and depends on ―the choices that others are making possibly with the express purpose of frustrating one‘s own strategy‖ (Freedman 2007: 318). Achieving desired ends requires the cooperation or collusion of others who are not necessarily willing to do just that. Therefore, we might say that influencing the behavior or attitudes of others is the essence of strategy. This requires that we anticipate likely choices and adjust our actions accordingly. The art of strategy, writes Freedman, ―is to shape the choices of others, friends and supporters as well as enemies and rivals‖ (2007: 336).132 Warfare has been conceptualized as part of the political game. ―Der Krieg,‖ Clausewitz famously stated, ―ist eine bloße Fortsetzung der Politik mit anderen Mitteln… ein Akt der Gewalt, um den Gegner zur Erfüllung unseres Willens zu zwingen‖ ([1832] 1980: 210, 191-2).133 Although politics and war differ in their grammar,

131

Non-violent contention has its own repertoire (see, e.g., Petersen 2001; Guibernau 1999).

The means used to achieve the objectives of the strategy are tactics. While the distinction between tactical and strategic is a useful one, although it can easily become blurred in practice. 132

―War is a continuation of political intercourse, carried on with other means … an act of force to compel our enemy to do our will‖ (my translation) 133

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they share the same logic (Clausewitz [1832] 1980: 991). But today, with the prevalence of intrastate wars of an ethnic or nationalist kind, there is a tendency to see deep-seated hatred and irrationality at work. Smith counters this view, insisting that all warfare ―is inherently the same and can therefore be understood, in its entirety, within the Clausewitzian strategic paradigm‖ (2003: 35). His point is well taken. Notwithstanding the asymmetric nature of intrastate conflicts, these are still political struggles. The discrepancy in capabilities and legal status between state and non-state actors does not invalidate the basic fact that the violence we witness in these conflicts represents the matching of political wills by way of physical force. However, the strategic calculus underpinning the recourse to violence is more subtle. Violence usually is intermittent and localized rather than concentrated in time and space. Such fragmentation demands a better understanding of the strategic use of violence and of the relation between politics and violence more generally. My contention is that in these instances politics and warfare tend to collapse. While still following the same logic, the differences in grammar are blurred. In the world of Clausewitz war was a contest, a direct trial of strength in an open battle. It was a means to resolve a political argument among princes – often over trivial issues. In order to impose one‘s will the adversary‘s forces had to be worn down to a point where her costs exceeded the benefits perceived to be at stake.134 The adversary had not to be annihilated but forced to concede – an act to be formalized in a peace treaty. Put differently, war was meant to reveal hidden or unknown information about one another‘s true military capabilities. It laid bare the power differentials which the contestants had reasons to misrepresent or to overestimate in the political haggling that preceded the encounter on the battlefield (see Powell 1999).135 When negotiation strategies failed, they were replaced by military strategy. War, accordingly, was imagined as an instrumental and rational undertaking. It was, as we tend to say, hedged.136 The nuclear age and Cold War politics brought innovations in strategic thinking. The specter of a nuclear Armageddon changed the parameters of the game. It became clear that a nuclear war was unwinnable. Opponents were thus bound together by a common fate and a mutual interest to avoid escalation. War could

Clausewitz insisted that war is not an act of blind passion but a goal-oriented undertaking. Hence, costs should be proportional to the expected benefits ([1832] 1980: 217). 134

The problem of incomplete information is based on the contra-factual assumption that if the contestants had known beforehand each others‘ capabilities and thus the outcome of the confrontation, they would have settled the conflict peacefully in accordance with the true balance of power. The incentive of doing so would have come from the immense costs in treasure and blood that any war brings with it. 135

Hedged wars are said, among other things, to discriminate between combatants and non-combatants while battlefields, on which civilians have no place, are out in the green. 136

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not be a test of military capacities anymore. It lost some of its instrumentality. Strategic reasoning as a consequence became more complex. From now on it was less concerned with ―the efficient application of force but with the exploitation of potential force‖ (Schelling 1980: 5, his emphasis). Winning under such circumstances could not be understood in absolute terms anymore but meant ―gaining relative to one‘s own value system‖ (Schelling 1980: 4). The template for this was the bargaining process. In a bargaining process buyer and seller argue over the price to pay against the background of a shared interest to conclude a deal. Our successive offers attempt to induce the other into agreeing on a price that maximizes our benefits. Achieving our will, however, demands that the other plays our game: Should one drop out both walk away with nothing. The strategic challenge in a bargaining process is to find ways to control or direct the other‘s behavior in furtherance of one‘s own goals without destroying the interaction itself. In the presence of nuclear weapons, conventional or so-called proxy wars became a means of bargaining over relative political gains in a global conflict opposing the two superpowers. This has inspired the way we think about intrastate conflicts (see Lake 2003; Lake and Rothchild 1998; Lake and Rothchild 1996). For Smith, the idea of ―[t]he notion of war as a bargaining process helps us comprehend those conflicts that exist between highly unequal participants, most notably of course, civil wars between powerful government forces and rebellious substate actors‖ (2003: 36). Whatever the ultimate goal, be it national self-determination, revolution, or political reform, the latter engage with a government they want to topple or replace but without the means to do so in the short term. The gap between means and ends is huge and strategy will therefore be geared toward intermediate objectives (Crenshaw 1983: 25). Opponents in these situations ―may wish to manipulate the military instrument, not necessarily in order to destroy the enemy‘s armed forces, but to influence enemy behaviour to facilitate the achievement of political goals‖ (Smith 2003: 36). The obvious differences between Cold War politics and these conflicts require some clarification. What leveled the playing field in the former and put adversaries at par was the development of second-strike capacities. In intrastate conflicts the state, despite its superior means, will find it difficult to get rid of an elusive enemy whereas oppositional forces are too weak to prevail militarily. Paradoxically, in strategic terms the mutual capability of destruction yields the same result as the mutual incapacity to do so. The conflict resembles a bargaining process. In either case, violence aids to shift the balance of power short of total victory. Violence is strategic insofar it makes the opponent react in a way that increases the probability that we will eventually impose our will, to remain within Clausewitzian terminology. More precisely, the state has to be prodded to act

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in ways that provide its opponents with partial victories. It has to be brought to unwittingly collude with its opponents. Finally, and in order to sum up the present discussion, when oppositional violence in intrastate conflicts seeks immaterial effects rather than physical destruction, ―strategic analysis takes on an even more intriguing dimension because it requires, amongst other things, a high degree of appreciation of the socio-political environment in which these conflicts occur‖ (Smith 2003: 36). In a bargaining process, arguments are what counts. These will not only be about potential material consequences (Schelling‘s ―potential force‖) but also feature shared understandings about the appropriateness of conduct in a given situation. I argue that in nationalist conflicts legitimacy is crucial and requires us to look in-depth at the historical context within which it occurs. This does not imply that the strategy of seeking concessions by violently coercing the state is irrelevant. It is likely to rank second in explaining violence where nationalism is involved. More generally, the distinctively political use of violence makes Clausewitz‘s distinction of political and military affairs turn fuzzy. The recourse to violence is not an ultima ratio meant to decide a conflict but a statement in an ongoing bargaining process. Before returning to this claim I will first review the discussion of strategies of terrorism. The claim that nationalist violence is amenable to strategic analyses echoes arguments advanced in the terrorism debate.

III) TERRORISM AS POLITICAL VIOLENCE On the following pages I review contributions to the debate on the strategy of terrorism.137 Two strands have emerged. One seeks to build a theory of terrorism as strategy based on its psychological aspects, another tries to explain its workings in rationalist terms exclusively. I will show that the idea of terrorism as an essentially psychological weapon contradicts its strategic use. As a strategy it would have to allow one to control the target‘s next move. Yet, strong emotional reactions like anxiety preclude a calculated target response and thus make terrorism useless – at least from a theoretical perspective. However, since terrorism became a predominant policy issue in the last decade, several analyses purportedly dealing with terrorism as a strategy skipped its psychological dimension in favor of a more rationalistic approach.

For an overview of the debate on the phenomenon of terrorism more generally, see Schmid (2011), Merari (1993), and Laqueur (1977). 137

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I argue that the notion of terrorism, for sake of clarity and in order to remain true to the etymological roots, should be reserved for situations where symbolic violence is used tactically in order to terrorize people. For a strategic analysis that is based on rationalistic assumptions we should employ the concept of political violence. The tension that exists between arguments that draw on notion of psychology and those that adopt a rationalist approach will guide my discussion. I will present both in turn before settling for the latter.

1) TERROISM AS PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE Terrorism, write Neumann and Smith, ―is a particular form of psychological warfare; a battle of wills played out in people‘s minds‖ (2005: 576). Its aim, they maintain, is not to kill or destroy ―but to break the spirit and create a sensation of fear within a target group, which will cause it to initiate political change‖ (2005: 576). They echo a point made earlier by Crenshaw who sees the value of terrorism in ―its psychological effectiveness‖ (1972: 387). According to this view, terrorism generates emotional terror. Its psychological effect is supposed to be fear and, even worse, anxiety. In order to yield such an effect, terrorism has to display distinct features. Drawing on work by Thornton (1964) Crenshaw emphasizes its symbolic nature. A terrorist act is a ―message‖ to the living: ―The victims or objects of terrorist attack have little intrinsic value to the terrorist group but represent a larger human audience whose reaction the terrorists seek‖ (1981: 379). This audience is left physically unharmed but emotionally distressed. The meaning of a terrorist attack is more important than its immediate material effect. Moreover, in order to be effective, terrorist violence has to be exceptional. It has to be an act that does not belong to the accepted repertoire of political contention. Only then will the message be heard. When violence is ubiquitous, terrorism loses its effectiveness because it becomes a common occurrence. Terrorism thus deploys its full force only when it creates potential victims. Writes Crenshaw: the reaction to the terrorist menace tends to be anxiety because the stimulus although real is vague, incomprehensible, and totally unexpected: the qualities of the anxiety-producing situation. Persons confronted with terrorism feel helpless, which contributes to their anxiety, but this feeling is usually based on actual impotence. Terrorism appears irrational to the threatened individual, who therefore cannot respond rationally (1972: 387). Such an emotional response to terrorism is intended ―to influence political behavior and attitudes in order to further the revolution‘s chances of success‖ (Crenshaw 1972: 385). The political payoff is found in its capacity to disorient society. ―Disorientation occurs when the victim does not know what he fears, when the source of his fears lies outside of his field of experience‖ (Thornton 1964: 83). Terrorism disorients society because it

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…upsets the framework of precepts and images which members of society depend on and trust. Since one no longer knows what sort of behavior to expect from other members of society, the system is disoriented … Terrorism destroys the solidarity, cooperation, and interdependence on which social functioning is based, and substitutes insecurity and distrust (Crenshaw 1972: 388). Even if physically undisturbed, ―the individual perceives himself to be alone in his anguish‖ (Thornton 1964: 83). The state‘s inability to cope with the situation dissociates victims from the existing structure of authority as it shatters the sociopsychological ties on which the polity is founded. This engenders his isolation from social structures. The victims‘ ―attempt to locate new structures of authority‖ opens the field for the opposition (Thornton 1964: 84). Hence, the political gains of terrorism materialize when public opinion begins to question the government‘s capacity or willingness to uphold order. Terrorism thus creates the conditions to impose a ―new legitimacy‖ that will bring the incumbents to fall. Neumann and Smith have sought to build on these foundations a model of terrorism as a military strategy in a campaign comprising several stages (2005: 571). Their model assumes a ―non-state terrorist group competing for absolute power with a government against which its efforts are targeted‖ (Neumann and Smith 2005: 573).138 Drawing on the work of Thornton and Crenshaw they describe terrorism as ―the deliberate creation of a sense of fear, usually by the use or threat of use of symbolic acts of physical violence, to influence the political behavior of a given target group‖ (2005: 574). The exploitation of a psychological effect for political ends determines the ―distinctive modus operandi‖ of strategic terrorism (Neumann and Smith 2005: 575). The terrorist campaign has three stages beginning with actions aimed at creating ―disorientation‖. These, in turn, elicit a ―target response‖ and, if successful, increase the legitimacy of the cause in whose name terrorists struggle. The three stages function as follows. Disorientation, it has already been said, unsettles stability by disturbing the normal functioning of social life as the state ceases to perform its most fundamental function which is to preserve order. The destruction of the social fabric, so the idea, makes individuals receptive for a new social and political order. Isolated amidst the rubble of an imploded society, they are picked up by the revolutionary movement. For disorientation to occur violence has to appear indiscriminate because above all those who are not harmed have to be frightened. There is a need to ―transcend established ethical barriers‖ in order to ―create an atmosphere of terror‖ (Neumann and Smith 2005: 578). Violence has to shock people. Everyone has to realize that she can be the next victim. Yet, violence alone does not suffice to gain political leverage.

They exclude thereby ―single issue terrorists‖ (radical animal rights groups or militant anti-abortionists) as well as instances of ―state terrorism.‖ 138

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In order for terrorism to win over the people, the state‘s reaction is crucial. Target Response thus constitutes the second stage in a terrorism campaign. The state, which is ultimately the target of terrorist violence, has to react in ways that undermine its authority. Neumann and Smith, drawing on work by Berry (1987), present four mechanisms: ―target overreaction‖, ―power deflation‖, ―repression of moderates‖, and ―appeasement of moderates‖ (2005: 580). Target overreaction means that the government chooses a heavy-handed response that includes extra-legal measures of repression. Power deflation is the opposite reaction. The state shows itself unable to deal with the terrorist threat. Authorities appear indecisive and weak facing a determined minority. Repression of moderates is another type of self-defeating response. When the government decides to crack down on the opposition it will target its most visible elements risking their radicalization. The government can also choose to appease moderates. Sensing that the terrorist threat has its roots in legitimate grievances, the state can devise policies that address these. The aim is to isolate extremists who privilege violent strategies and secure the loyalty of moderates, but this can backfire when the state appears to bend to blackmail. The final stage of a terrorist campaign determines its outcome. In order for terrorists to succeed people need not only to be alienated from the state but they have to embrace the new legitimacy proposed by the insurgents. The military threat of terrorism is minor compared to the state‘s coercive capabilities. It becomes existential ―only when the majority of people transcends the state of disorientation and begins to lend support to the terrorists‖ (2005: 582). Terrorists have to transmit their message to the public. Here, as Neumann and Smith assume, their skills in manipulating the media will be decisive. Otherwise, they have to raise the political consciousness of those they want to mobilize before launching a terrorist campaign. A second factor is whether their message resonates at all. Here ideology is crucial. Usually the terrorist message comes in form of a social critique that denies the legitimacy of the rulers. The ability to wrest legitimacy from the state and consolidate an alternative authority depends on whether the ideology has sufficient appeal. This will be difficult when the ideology is political as is the case of Marxism or Fascism. It will, however, be much easier when it is rooted in ―strong pre-existing sources of identity, such as nationality, ethnicity or religion‖ (Neumann and Smith 2005: 584). According to Neumann and Smith, ―the most advantageous scenario for the terrorists occurs when the revolutionary ideology is already widely disseminated amongst the population, so that – when the revolt breaks out – the terrorists are accorded an instant legitimacy‖ (2005: 584). Finally, Neumann and Smith suggest that the need to enjoy some level of support prior to launching a terrorist campaign shows the limits of terrorism as military strategy. Where a shift in legitimacy requires long term

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political agitation, all that terrorism can hope for is to destroy the legitimacy of the incumbent regime. It remains an incomplete strategy since legitimacy cannot be gained by military means alone (Neumann and Smith 2005: 585). Violence is no substitute for political work at the grassroots – although in conflicts revolving around ethnic identities the challenge seems to be less daunting than in conflicts that are exclusively ideological. All that can be said is that terrorism, as a psychological weapon, can be a catalyst for political change. Yet, the problem with terrorism as a strategy might arise even earlier once we take a closer look at its key mechanism which is disorientation. Disorientation is said to be caused by strong emotions in the face of indiscriminate violence. Price (1977), however, suggests that indiscriminate violence will alienate precisely those people the revolutionary movement wants to win over. A strategy of discriminate violence is far more efficient. Reversing an argument made first by Thornton, he contends that the point is to make indiscriminate violence appear discriminate in that it is presented as a measure of punishment (Price 1977: 54; also Thornton 1964: 82).139 Price‘s contention seems to be borne out by the facts. Disorientation by itself, he claims, has never been successful. The idea that violence in order to be effective needs to be targeted – or at least has to appear targeted – springs from a more fundamental problem with terrorism as a psychological weapon. Any attempt to conduct a strategic analysis based on strong emotions runs into serious problems. It has to theorize a reaction that is likely to be irrational and thus hardly predictable.140 From a theoretical perspective, a strategy built on unpredictable reactions is incomplete.141 Terrorism‘s psychological impact is too unspecific to constitute the basis for a coherent strategy. Arguably, emotional reactions of populations in the face of terrorist attacks can be conceived as costs that the authorities have to shoulder. Therefore, other approaches have tried to conceptualize terrorism in rationalist terms by focusing on what Neumann and Smith see as the second stage in a terrorist campaign, that is, the target response. This, however, should not lead us to redefine terrorism in non-psychological terms – a move that would be contrary to the very notion of terror. Terrorism should rather be understood as a tactical weapon in strategies of political violence. As a consequence, rationalist

Thornton distinguishes between enforcement and agitational terror (1964: 72). The former is supposed to be used by the authorities while the latter by revolutionaries and synonymous with disorientation. 139

But fear and anxiety are highly subjective reactions. It is unlikely that the effect of disorientation will be equally distributed throughout society. Some will grow frantic; others will sense fear, yet others may be defiant while still others will support the terrorists in their cause not feeling threatened at all. 140

It is telling that Thornton himself insisted that in order to be predictable the response to terrorism had to be fear and not anxiety (1964: 87-8). He expected such a response not among ―the resonant mass‖ but among state agents or organizations whose policy responses would follow known scripts (1964: 79). How this squares with the extra-normal character of terrorism as defined by Thornton is another question. 141

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approaches to terrorism, to which I turn now, would be better served by subsuming them within the broader debate on political violence.

2) A RATIONALIST TAKE In later contributions to the debate on terrorism as strategy, the psychological dimension of terrorism has been replaced by an assumption of rationality on the part of terrorists and its targets and audiences. Kydd and Walter (2006; also Pape 2003) argue that conceptualizing terrorist strategy solely in terms of its psychological effect is mistaken. Strategic analysis implies the assumption that both sides are rationally devising their moves in function of the likelihood of subsequent moves by the other side. A rationalist approach allows theorizing such interactions in terms of a cost-benefit calculus given set goals. As the authors put it: ―Terrorism works not simply because it instills fear in target populations, but because it causes governments and individuals to respond in ways that aid the terrorists‘ cause‖ (Kydd and Walter 2006: 50). Terrorism, according to them, is not based on a psychological effect but influences on the opponent‘s strategic calculus. Taking such a rationalist approach Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle present domestic terrorism as following either one of two strategies: armed propaganda or armed pressure. Armed pressure is ―a form of coercion‖ (Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle 2009: 38). Violence forces the state to concede unless the authorities are ready to incur ever growing costs.142 The strategy of armed propaganda is more complex. Violence is used to ―gain visibility and attract supporters‖ (Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle 2009: 38). They present three hypotheses of the linkages between violence and mobilization. First, violence is a signal to those in whose name terrorist act that the time to rise up has come. It encourages them to follow in their footsteps. Second, violence stands for an underlying conflict and as such it is a symbol. It highlights its seriousness and exposes the state‘s feebleness when confronted with its consequences. Third, violence provokes repression which, in turn, will bolster support for the terrorists. More generally, when it comes to armed propaganda, the targets have to have a symbolic quality that resonates with relevant audiences, that is, they have to stand for the group‘s real or apparent grievances – for instance security forces notorious for their use of repressive violence. In sum, Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle claim that armed propaganda is about popular support while armed pressure is a ―bargaining tool‖ (2009: 38). Kydd and Walter, adopting a similar approach, have attempted to subsume both dimensions into an overarching strategic concept namely, costly signaling. Terrorists might be ―too weak to impose their will 142

For an empirical validation of this idea with regard to suicide terrorism, see Pape (2003).

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directly by force of arms. They are sometimes strong enough, however, to persuade audiences to do as they wish by altering the audience‘s beliefs about such matters as the terrorist‘s ability to impose costs and their degree of commitment to their cause‖ (2006: 50). Terrorists know how far they are ready to go in order to realize their goals. Their targets, however, are not only far superior in power but have reasons to dismiss the threat of terrorism as posturing. The demands raised by terrorists are not credible unless followed up by concrete action. Violence becomes an instrument to signal power and resolve. Acts of terrorism show the public that terrorists are dead serious about their claims. This is what ―costly signals‖ are all about. Terrorist attacks are ―so costly that bluffers and liars are unwilling to take them‖ (Kydd and Walter 2006: 58). What are the dimensions that costly signaling is meant to influence? Rationalists maintain that the explanation for conflict and war is to be found in lack of information and mutual uncertainty. Several attributes critical to the evaluation of potential outcomes of a conflict are uncertain. The literature pinpoints three factors: resolve, power, and trustworthiness. Disagreements over these attributes aggravate the latent conflicts inherent to a Hobbesian world dominated by mutual uncertainty about each other‘s intentions: If I know my adversary to have superior resolve and/or to be more powerful I will back down rather than escalate the conflict. If I know that she lacks resolve and/or is weaker than me than I will be steadfast and she, knowing that, will concede. If I know her to be trustworthy, I will be ready to strike a deal since I expect her to honor engagements. The problem is that these factors cannot be assessed with any certainty and both sides may try to exploit this to their advantage. It invites bluffs, encourages people to dismiss talk as mere rhetoric and thus foments unnecessary escalation. It is in this context that costly signals become important. Terrorism can prompt audiences to re-evaluate their assumptions about the distribution of power, resolve, and trust. Kydd and Walter discuss five types of ―costly signaling‖: attrition, intimidation, provocation, spoiling, and outbidding. Attrition stands for attempts to ―persuade‖ the target that the costs of maintaining a certain policy will not cease to increase until the policy is abrogated. Intimidation signals the population that the state cannot prevent terrorists from punishing noncompliance with their orders. Provocation seeks to incite government repression in order to radicalize the population. Spoiling is used to discredit moderates on the terrorists‘ side in order to undermine peace deals. Terrorist attacks signal the government that moderates are ―weak and untrustworthy‖ partners. Outbidding is a measure of violent advertisement. Terrorism signals to a group‘s own community that it is more committed than any rival group. As such it is worthy of support. All these strategies address either of two audiences, the state or the terrorist‘s constituency – save for provocation where the signaling is directed toward the constituency but with the state operating as transmission belt. Whereas the ―targeted governments are central because they can grant concessions over policy or territory that the

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terrorists are seeking … domestic audience is also important, because they can provide resources to the terrorist group and must obey its edicts on social or political issues‖ (Kydd and Walter 2006: 58). A closer look at the five strategies reveals that they actually fall into two categories similar to those advanced by Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle (2009). Attrition and intimidation are coercive strategies which directly influence on the cost/benefit calculus of the target. They signal that intransigence or disobedience entails mounting costs. The other three are more subtle and of an indirect nature. Here the quality of the signal and thus its effectiveness is incumbent on assumptions regarding attitudes of the terrorist‘s constituency. The state‘s calculus can be influenced only to the extent that a population is alienated from the government. Outbidding presupposes widespread hostility toward the state – otherwise the signal would backfire and terrorists appear as isolated hotheads which the government need not fear. In order for spoiling to succeed, the state‘s initial assumption about the standing of moderates is critical. The more terrorists appear representative of popular attitudes the more likely the state is to lose faith in the moderates. Similarly, the effectiveness of provocation requires that the people the terrorists claim to represent is well defined and already considered suspicious by the authorities. In all these instances therefore the people are the decisive factor. It is they who determine the effectiveness of terrorism – whether or not we conceive of it as a signaling tool. Although the terrorist strategy of direct and unmediated coercion fits perfectly into the rationalist mold and is captured by what I call a logic of tyranny, the second set of indirect strategies, which Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle subsume under the concept of armed propaganda, raises further questions. How precisely the strategic potential that lies within the people is realized? Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle refer at one point to the formal models of Bueno de Mesquita and Dickson (2007) and Siqueira and Sandler (2006) and one might add the piece of de Figueiredo and Weingast (2001).143 What these papers have in common their econometric perspective. They all ask how the escalation of violence changes the individual cost-benefit calculus so as to motivate people to support or join a terrorist movement. The expected pay-off for joining or lending support has to outweigh net costs. Since the expected payoff depends on the probability of victory and thus on popular support, the militants face a dilemma. At the beginning the number of their followers will be too small to convince others that they can prevail. They will hardly be attractive. To overcome this problem they have to devise ways to manipulate either of both, expected benefits or costs. They can either inflate the perceptions of their strengths and thus the 143

From a more general perspective, see Lichbach‘s (1995) seminal book on rational dissidence.

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likelihood of the success or raise the specter of dramatic consequences should they fail to impose their rule on society. Violence, here, is instrumental, either as a show of strength or as a means to create more violence (see McCormick and Giordano 2007; de Figueiredo and Weingast 2001). Another way to look at the questions surrounding the role of the people in intrastate conflicts is to take seriously the passing references to nationalism or ethnicity. How does terrorism relate to these concepts? I argue that terrorism, or political violence for that matter, can shape the nationalist imaginary in a way that constrains the state‘s subsequent choices. This property points to my logic of legitimacy. Violence is political because it can transform collective identity.

IV) POLITICAL VIOLENCE & NATIONALIST CONFLICT The discussion so far has shown that the relation between so-called terrorists and their constituency is of critical importance if we are to understand the political strategies underpinning the violence of armed non-state actors. Terrorism as much addresses the ones it claims to defend as it is directed against the state. The effectiveness of terrorism is ultimately determined by people‘s reactions. Hardly will the very act of violence in itself make the state tremble.144 Terrorism, or for that matter political violence, is only powerful when mediated by relevant audiences – chiefly among them those the terrorists claim to represent. The triadic relationship between terrorism, the state and the people has rarely been explicitly theorized with regard to the interaction between terrorists and their constituencies. Usually, as far as society is taken into account, it is as an amorphous mass. But, as the preceding discussion suggests, terrorists tend to fight for a specific sections or strata of society. This applies whether we think of terrorism in the context of revolutionary or nationalist struggles. Terrorists, it is argued, fail when they cannot secure at least some degree of allegiance among their own. A terrorist group requires ―some legitimacy from the society in whose name it kills if it wants to survive beyond the short term‖ (Sanchez-Cuenca and de la Calle 2009: 45). On a tactical level support is vital for money, weapons, recruits, sanctuaries and intelligence, among other things (see Paul 2010). Strategically, it secures political gains without which even partial success will be impossible to achieve. In order to turn into a political force to be counted with, terrorists have to bring people over to their side.

From a military perspective, terrorism is hardly a threat. However, there are still scenarios around that deal with the likelihood of a truly devastating terrorist attack, like an assault on a nuclear power plant or the use of so-called ―dirty bombs‖. As to my knowledge such a scenario has never come close to realization. 144

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1) TERRORISM IN NATIONALIST OR ETHNIC CONFLICTS Terrorism in nationalist or ethnic conflict displays distinct features. Colonial regimes, foreign occupations or situations of so-called ―internal colonialism‖ have in common that those who rule are easily construed as alien and usurpers of power. Under such circumstances the status quo will lack legitimacy given the prevalence of the nationalist conception of political legitimacy. Moreover, the targets of terrorist violence are distinguished by ethnicity or, for that matter, national belonging. As Byman explains, when ethnic collective identities resonate with the public, it is likely that terrorist assaults are ―considered retaliation or rebellion against repression rather than acts of random violence‖ (1998: 154). This should increase the effectiveness of violent strategies. Neumann and Smith hypothesize that ―when a government enjoys little popular legitimacy and is widely suspected to act contrary to the interests of the population, the terrorists will find it much easier to replace the idea of the government as a provider of security and stability‖ (2005: 578-9). Whereas terrorists will always face difficulties to rally support – in fact, the very occurrence of terrorism is a sign that support is lacking –, militant nationalists are said to enjoy at least some sympathy among their compatriots. ―The misguided actions of a few hotheads will be condemned but at the same time extenuating circumstances will be found to explain, if not altogether excuse their behavior‖ (Laqueur 1977: 110). Laqueur, for instance, finds that in Northern Ireland it was precisely the ―sectarian character of the terrorist groups that gave them a good deal of popular support, more than any social-revolutionary terrorist group could ever count upon‖ (1977: 189). This, however, does not suffice to ignore or discount for the ―in-group‖ or ―within group‖ dimension of political violence. Militant nationalists or ethnic vigilantes resort to violence out of frustration over the apathy of their people. Collaboration with the enemy, that is, the state or opposing groups, is quite common, and intra-group punishment and even murder has frequently been reported.145 Militants, setting out from the fringes of the political spectrum, have repeatedly found themselves confined to marginality as they were shunned by their own people. They usually have to cope with a public everything but responsive to their agenda. Thus, they will have a hard time to convince people of the righteousness of their cause. Even where people identify with the nation or the ethnic group, support for violence in order to realize demands that are raised in their name is rarely forthcoming. Attitudes with regard to the relevance of the struggle diverge as does people‘s opinions regarding concrete action. Support for militants will be restraint and they are likely to be labeled ―extremists‖ or ―radicals‖. Hence, for Byman the ―first task‖ of militants ―is to make ethnicity politically salient for the larger ethnic community‖ (1998: 154). Indeed, one may say that ―unlike other terrorists, ethnic terrorists focus on

145

See fn.122

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forging a distinct ethnic identity and fostering ethnic mobilization‖ (Byman 1998: 150). In nationalist or ethnic conflict, political violence aims at forming or shaping identity. Alternative identity categories have to be marginalized or subdued in order for ethnonational belonging to become the single dominant political identity to which allegiance is due. But for identity to be politically effective it has to inform behavior. ―It is not enough for an individual to feel loyalty to an ethnic group: he or she must also support the identity against any rival claims‖ (Byman 1998: 156). It does not suffice to remind people of who we are. What is required is an understanding of what it means to be part of the community. Political violence by militants thus not only serves to increase the importance of a specific identity category over others but it also helps to impose it as the dominant category of political struggle. A political identity centered on the state that has the potential to embrace all its inhabitants has to be replaced by a politicized collective ethnic identity which is exclusive. State and ethnonational identity concepts now seem incompatible. ―Thus, to be Basque is not to be Spanish. To be a Kurd is to not be Turkish. The ethnic identity not only affirms its distinct nature; it rejects other identities that rival it politically‖ (Byman 1998: 154). From this perspective, the focus of analysis shifts away from the confrontation between a stateless nation or ethnic group and the state. Processes within the respective communities move center stage. The ―political and social balance‖ within the militants‘ own community takes precedence over the goal of influencing the state‘s decisions (Byman 1998: 152-3). Militants resort to violence because they seek a transformation of collective identity. Only by forming the self-perception of the people in their image will they turn into legitimate representatives of the nation and gather the political power it takes to face up to the state. In fact, Byman assumes that this constitutes a necessary condition for the political struggle. He sees a ―comparative identity weakness of many communal groups that have not used violence‖ (Byman 1998: 156). But in order for violence to be effective they cannot coerce their constituency.

2) FORMATIVE VIOLENCE: PROVOKING REPRESSION Violence is functional with regard to identity formation or transformation. Militants can either resort to intimidation in order to police their group or they provoke the government into indiscriminate repression against their community. The former follows the logic of tyranny, the latter the logic of legitimacy. The prevalence of intra-group killings has already been mentioned. Here militants use violence to enforce loyalty and squelch dissent. Writes Polk: ―They do so in part, no doubt, because civilians are easier targets than soldiers, but this is not the crucial reason: it is that unless they can forge a solid core of like-minded people, they cannot hope to survive, much less to ‗win‘‖ (2007: 14). Yet, coercion as political strategy is unlikely to be sustainable since it

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depends on the constant provision of negative incentives which is cost-intensive and thus difficult to maintain on the long haul.146 What militants have to do is to legitimize themselves. In nationalist conflict, legitimacy is a central issue because of the very nature of the conflict. Likewise, identity is a salient issue. When the nationalist agenda proposed by militants does not resonate within their audience a strategy of provocation can help (Fromkin 1975). It works by inciting the authorities to crack down on those suspected of harboring sympathies for the militants. Facing violent dissent, states are tempted to tough responses, as shown above. The community as a whole finds itself under attack because of the deeds of a tiny minority. But by indiscriminately harassing people, dispensing harsh treatments for suspected supporters, or even killing them, the state will undermine its legitimacy and vindicate the militants in their claims. State repression, so the idea goes, shapes the collective identity of the victimized group and fosters mobilization (see Bowman 2003). The threat posed by the state calls for the closing of ranks and antagonizes communities. An action-reaction cycle involving the security forces and militants creates a state of siege and destroys whatever bonds existed between communities and with the state. Even where the status quo is not fundamentally subverted, the effect is noticeable, as Crenshaw finds: Despite the enduring stability of the social order, a noticeable result of terrorism by one social or ethnic group against another – as the IRA against Protestants, Algerians against European settlers, or Palestinians against Israelis – is the reinforcement of group boundaries, increased cohesion within each community, and the widening of the gap between groups. Terrorism seems to reinforce tendencies to stereotype the out-group as the enemy. These changes in turn affect living and employment patterns as territorial boundaries of communities become sharply delineated (1983: 22). In Turkey the Kurdistan Workers‘ Party (PKK) resorted to violence to make itself heard. Its leader, Abdullah Ocalan, sought to escalate the conflict in order to raise the standing of its organization. But more than anything else, it was ―the security forces heavy-handed approach to fighting the insurgency [that] helped spread the PKK‘s message‖ (Marcus 2007: 113). In Northern Ireland, the Provisional IRA (Irish Republican Army) split from the mainstream IRA in late 1969 to pursue a more combative policy bent on provoking the British security forces into repression (Bell 1987: 152). Its goal was ―to make the Stormont [Parliament of Northern Ireland] government fail and thus force the British to ‗come out into the open‘ as the real – ‗colonialist‘ – rulers of the North‖ (Polk 2007: 65-6). This strategy was successful insofar it culminated in the January 1972 events known as Bloody Sunday and the subsequent imposition of Direct Rule by London. Arguably, the primary addressees

Indeed, people may collectively organize not only because they are offered individual benefits but also to avoid sanctions imposed on those not contributing to a joint effort (Congleton 1995: 73). However the costs for monitoring individual behavior and providing incentives make such mechanisms unfeasible. The costs of employing sanctions to mobilize people against the status quo should even higher. Additionally, coercion risks internal fractionalization or the marginalization of the sanctioneers. 146

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of the IRA violence were not so much the authorities and the British public than fellow Irish Catholics to whom the militants wanted to show that without unification emancipation would be impossible. Likewise, in the Basque Country, the militants of Basque Homeland and Freedom (ETA) consciously used violence as a means to win people over; or as Tejerina puts it, to reproduce and spread their ―definition of reality‖ (2001: 53). ETA‘s armed provocations took the form of action-repression-action spirals. The rationale was straightforward: ―1) ETA carries out a provocative violent action against the political system; 2) the system responds with repression against ‗the masses‘; 3) the masses respond with a mixture of panic and rebellion, whereupon ETA embarks on a further action that brings the masses a step further along the road to revolution‖ (Woodworth 2001: 5).147 Initially this strategy had some success. As Woodworth recalls, this ―grim motor shifted into gear when ETA carried out its first attacks, and the regime obliged with brutal and often indiscriminate repression against the general Basque population (2001: 5). The escalation did not so much damage the social fabric; it rather defined what it meant to be Basque. In the Basque Country escalating violence exerted a formative impact on collective identity. And here, as in other places, this had consequences for the distribution of political legitimacy. The capacity of violence to form or shape collective ethnic identity makes the provocation of repression a powerful political strategy. The assumption is that ―weak identities become politically salient when outsiders create an awareness of them‖ (Byman 1998: 155). State repression comes as an external shock likely to prompt changes in the dominant collective self-perceptions – sometimes even shifting the extension of a group‘s boundaries.148 As a father of an imprisoned ETA member states: ―Franco made us nationalists by his persecution‖ (Woodworth 2001: 4). Many Basques shared the feeling that they were discriminated simply for what they are: ―tu soufres parce que tu habites ici, to souffres parce que tu es basque‖ (Jauréguiberry 2007: 225). Indeed, as Jauréguiberry reminds us, the self-identification as Basque was inevitable since it was based on the daily experience of repression: ―Le fait qu‘un habitant basque décide de ‗ne pas être basque‘ … ne changeait absolument rien à sa ‗condition de Basque‘. Le lendemain de sa décision, il pouvait en effet très bien se faire matraquer dans la rue et se faire traiter de ‗sale basque‘, exactement de la même façon que tous ceux qui se seraient trouvés là à cet instant‖ (2007: 243). It mattered little that it was ETA‘s strategy that provoked the escalation of repressive policies. In the early 1970s ETA enjoyed a huge popularity for its role in ETA‘s action-reaction strategy and its distinct political-military rationale are said to be laid out in Mario Onaindia‘s La lucha de clases en Euskadi (1939-1980). 147

Not only that the PKK often had to ―convince‖ people of their Kurdish identity (Marcus 2007: 36): In eastern Turkey there is now populations who are said not to be of Kurdish origin but who identify as Kurds since they shared the same daily hardship of life in a war zone (McDowall 2000: 4). 148

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the Basque struggle. As Wieviorka, describing people‘s attitude towards ETA in that period, writes: ―[L‘ETA] symbolise sans contradiction apparentes tout ce que l‘opinion publique basque compte d‘espoir et d‘attentes, qu‘elle concrétise‖ (1993: 20). Its legitimacy resulted from the fact that it could rightly claim to represent the people.

SUMMARY In this chapter I introduced the logics of tyranny and legitimacy as two strategies of political violence. I then discussed the notion of strategy and retraced the two logics in the debate on terrorism. Here I stressed the psychological and thus tactical nature of terrorism and argued for the broader concept of political violence. I then turned to the role of political violence in nationalist conflicts. The argument I advanced, in short, is that in nationalist conflicts political violence aims at the transformation of collective ethnic identity. Militant nationalists use violence to provoke repression in order to alienate people from the state and to drive communities apart. By mobilizing their constituency they seek to garner legitimacy. The benefits of such a strategy lie in the political power it confers to those who can convincingly claim to represent the nation in its longing for selfdetermination. Here as well, an example may help to clarify my point by illustrating the process at work. The case of the Front de libération nationale (FLN) in Algeria clearly shows the effectiveness of such a strategy and the identity-forming effect of escalating violence. Until the 1930s the idea of a distinct Algerian nation was rather weak. Ferhat Abbas, a Muslim Algerian leader of renown, famously claimed in 1936 that ―Si j‘avais découvert la ‗nation algérienne‘, je serais nationaliste … Je ne l‘ai pas découverte‖ ([1936] 1978: 65). Even those who insisted on the cultural distinctiveness of the Muslim community did so within the framework of the Third Republic. The cultural difference had yet to transform into a fully-fledged nationalism.149 The emancipatory drive of Algeria‘s Muslim population that ushered in a civil war changed all that. It was above all the FLN‘s armed struggle that formed the Algerian nation. The FLN managed to impose its idea and defined the nation‘s collective representation. By doing so the FLN secured its legitimacy and thus its political pre-eminence for the years to come. Writes Fromkin: In Algeria, the whole question was one of persuasion. The problem initially faced by the miniscule band of Algerian nationalists that called itself the National Liberation Front … was that Algeria at that time had little sense of national identity. … All depended, therefore, on whether the indigenous population could be convinced by the French government that Algeria was not a separate country, or upon whether they could be persuaded by the FLN to change their minds Pervillé mentions that Messali Hadj, another key figure in the struggle for independence, concedes in his memoirs that early anti-colonial and patriotic sentiment became explicitly nationalist only in the course of the struggle, He writes: ―Nous ne nous rendions pas compte que nous étions animés par des sentiments nationalistes‖ (quoted in Pervillé 2012: 18-9). 149

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so as to think of themselves as a nation. … What the FLN did was to goad the French into reacting in such a way as to demonstrate the unreality of the claim that there was no distinct Algerian nation. … Once the sympathies of the population had shifted to its side, the FLN was able to outgrow mere terrorism and to organize a campaign of guerrilla warfare. It also was enabled to appeal to world sympathies on behalf of a people fighting for its freedom. … Even though the FLN had written the script, the French, with suicidal logic, went ahead to play the role for which they had been cast (1975: 689-90). The point of no return came in the summer of 1955. Pressured by the authorities who adopted firmer measures to combat the mounting rebellion, the fledgling FLN found itself on the defensive. In a last ditch attempt to prevent annihilation, the regional FLN commander in the Constantinois resolved to escalate the struggle. Massacres committed in Philippeville (Skikda) and a few other towns left 236 civilians dead – among them 135 ―Europeans‖. These attacks had no military rationale but marked a point of no return as the French government answered in kind: During the reprisals which followed over a thousand people perished. ―La provocation réussit parfaitement,‖ concludes Pervillé (2012: 46). And an eyewitness of the early days of the war recounts: ―Fin 1955, les révolutionnaires étaient enfin reconnus en tant que tel par la majorité de la population, non pas à cause de leur propagande, … mais à cause du comportement des Français‖ (Ferdi [1981] 2008: 204). In the end, the repressive policies of the French state proved utterly self-defeating since they allowed the FLN to forge an Algerian nation when injustice turned into vicious oppression. Having discussed in great detail the three key notions constituting my theoretical framework, namely, legitimacy, identity, and violence, I now present a theoretical framework summarizing the process by which nationalist militants wrest legitimacy from the state.

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CONCLUSION: A THEORETICAL FRAMEWORK

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INTRODUCTION Nationalist politics can take different forms. While all nationalisms have in common the conviction that the nation deserves a state of its own, they differ in their approach. The militant nationalists the present work deals with are radical by definition. Their demands are maximalist and their perspective on the world is alarmist. They discard the use of institutional avenues to voice their grievances and reject any compromise with the state. They oppose political solutions that do not guarantee statehood and call for immediate political action. They project a looming threat to the nation‘s survival and call their compatriots to rise up in order to prevent the worst. Such a combative and uncompromising stance often coincides with a view on violence as a legitimate means of struggle. The status quo, however, displays a disturbing stability. In their majority, people refrain from lending support to policies that aim at disrupting the order they got used to living with. They loathe insecurity. Therefore, in the face of an open challenge to the state that risks escalating conflict, most resolve to stand idle. Fence-sitting is the rule, not an exception. Despite their claim to represent the nation as a whole, militant nationalists find themselves on the fringe of the political spectrum. They are often criticized by their own people for their reckless conduct. Their foremost goal, therefore, is to shed the stigma of radicalism. Indeed, militant nationalists usually argue that they were pushed to take up arms by the force of circumstances. Although they would rather not use such means, the state‘s adversity made a violent confrontation inevitable. Militant nationalists seek to mobilize their people and rally them behind their leadership. They want to be accepted and recognized as true and authentic representatives of the nation. In order to do so they need to connect with the majority and win them over for their struggle. Only if successful will their claim to represent the nation become reality. As I argue, this process is best understood a struggle for political legitimacy – comprising an internal as well as an external dimension. The key to success lies in shaping the self-perception of the people as a nation distinct from the nation promoted by the state‘s institutions. This brings people over to their side. Therefore, the second claim I make is that the legitimation of militant nationalists requires the transformation of the nation‘s identity. Militants attempt to reconstruct the nation in their image and thus to impose their idea of what it means to belong. Making the world look like they see it renders their struggle justified and righteous in the eyes of participants and observers alike. More precisely, it is by making people‘s behavior accord with the

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image they project of the nation that militant nationalists gain political leverage.150 People have to appear combative and uncompromising in the struggle to assert their nationhood. If this happens, militant nationalists wrest legitimacy from the authorities and gain preeminence among their own. Hence, the third claim I make is that fomenting violence is a powerful means to realize such a feat. The violent provocation of the state, as we have seen, is a political strategy in its own right. Small scale guerrilla attacks on security forces, political assassination, bombings of public facilities, etc. are likely to provoke the state into lashing out indiscriminately. Minor attacks, committed in the nation‘s name, have the potential to shift the balance of power when they are met by fierce repression – seemingly directed at the community as a whole. By its action, the state elicits reactions among those targeted which justify, enforce, and sustain separation from and non-cooperation with the authorities and members of the state‘s constituent nation. Indiscriminate repression thus undermines the state‘s political legitimacy. In sum, I argue that militant nationalists employ political violence in order to gain legitimacy and thus the political representation of their nation by transforming collective identity. Political violence in nationalist conflicts thus can be explained by its potential to cajole the state into repressive actions which inflict harm on uncommitted individuals. Political violence, here, is politically consequential, not so much because of its immediate material impact but because it helps to direct collective action that delegitimizes the state. Militant nationalists pursue a politique du pire – the attempt to benefit from an aggravation of the situation one has brought about by his own actions. Note that, as said before, my argument is conceived in terms of sufficiency rather than necessity. Neither does political legitimacy exclusively result from from violence nor does violence necessarily cause legitimacy. But insofar we accept that there is a functional relationship between both – and my case studies strongly suggest that this is the case – then we might be interested to know more about the path leading from one to the other. This path, in nationalist conflicts, emphasizes the malleability of people‘s collective identity as a nation, that is, the dominant self-perception or self-representation of those nominally belonging and to whom nationalists appeal as their constituency. It touches upon the formative capacity of violence, its power to elicit antagonistic behavior and thus shape the way people perceive themselves and others. In sum, the theory I offer is not strictly causal in the sense of ―if A then B‖ but rather comes in the form of a constitutive explanation (Wendt

Although legitimation by way of identity transformation does not necessarily coincide with the attainment of statehood, it serves the more immediate goal of mobilization and thus political survival on which the achievement of all subsequent items on the nationalist agenda is incumbent. 150

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1998). It unearths the process of how the nationalism of a few comes to hold sway over the many and yields political power disproportionate with what their capabilities would make us expect. My theoretical argument, in a nutshell, goes as follows: In nationalist conflicts militants stand in-between their nation, on the one hand, and the state and international actors, on the other. They promote a collective identity that is incompatible with alternative political identities, above all the one promoted by the state. In order to tap the legitimating potential of the nation, the idea of an existential struggle has to come to dominate perceptions among audiences at home and abroad. Individual members have to perceive national belonging as an exclusive political identity that prevails over all other possible allegiances and is characterized by a combative and uncompromising stance. Such a transformation signals to external actors that there is a distinct community who seeks to assert its identity in the political realm. Concepts like self-determination and minority rights are evoked to make sense of the situation. As a rule, the more militant nationalists seem capable of rallying their people the greater the chance to receive the recognition of third parties and thus external legitimacy. In order for this scenario to materialize militant nationalists have to create facts that advance their cause. The way this dynamic unfolds resembles a self-fulfilling prophecy. Gaining legitimate representation and mobilizing a constituency, the twin challenge facing militant nationalists, can be achieved through an escalatory strategy. Armed provocation is used to trigger an escalation of violence in the course of which civilians are victimized. The targeted population is forced to react. Ethnonational belonging becomes a dominant concern overriding alternative social categories. As a consequence, people have to reconsider their allegiance to the state and the social interactions they maintain. When mistrust sets in and non-cooperation becomes the rule, the self-representation of those victimized changes. Observable dissent then accords with the nationalist ideology disseminated by the militants. We conceive of the result as a transformation of collective ethnic identity, that is, of the stateless nation‘s political identity. In sum, by overreacting to provocations the state unwittingly delegitimizes itself. The more the escalation drives people apart or alienates them from the state, the more the status quo appears unsustainable. The state‘s legitimacy deficit in the presence of different national communities is exacerbated and leads to its delegitimation. The popular reaction to attacks on civilians justifies the radicalism of a minority of militants. Legitimacy shifts to the militants and increases their power.151 Those wielding violence are not bandits or isolated terrorists anymore but represent the longing of a people for freedom and its wish to autonomously determine its destiny. Militants have turned into legitimate representatives of the nation. The process is

Power, broadly understood, is the potential of a state, a thing or a person to produce effects – intended or unintended ones. Power in that regard is more than a possession, such as industrial or military strength. 151

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captured in figure 1 which sketches the main arguments of my approach: Violence may yield gains in political power when the mechanism of provoked escalation kicks in and, by way of an action-reaction sequence, sets in motion the twin process of identity transformation and legitimation.

? Violence

Political Power

Provoked Escalation Legitimation (External/Internal)

Identity Transformation Figure 2: Identity and the Process of Legitimation by Violent Means

This theoretical framework is based on two meta-theoretical positions: strategic constructivism and a mechanism-based approach which is nowadays usually associated with the method of process-tracing.152 Strategic constructivism is strategic in the sense that it assumes goal-oriented actions by agents with known interests (see also Bates, de Figueiredo, and Weingast 1998; but Jakbo 2006). They calculate the best means toward ends based on assumptions about others‘ reactions. The interests they pursue and the choices of particular actions are subjected to worldviews, attitudes, and beliefs which are taken for granted. This highlights the constructivist side of strategic constructivism. People make sense of the world they live in through a continuous process of intersubjectively valid objectivations. Thereby the artifacts of multiple social interactions become detached and seem to impose themselves on the social world as a reality that is beyond the pale of individual control (Berger and Luckmann 1967). Although worldviews, attitudes, and beliefs and thus interests may appear to us as given, they are continuously created, recreated, and transformed – some are emphasized while others are forgotten. It is an open-ended process. Worldviews, attitudes, and beliefs are shaped and defined by human agency. The ―things‖ we assume as given are in fact moving. They change under the impact of very strategic choices they inform.153 In short, I prefer the notion of theoretical framework to that of ―model‖: The latter usually implies a deductive reasoning which my framework lacks since it captures a dynamic process. 152

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agents and structures interact and are co-constitutive. Strategic constructivism, thus, is about how strategic action can influence the process of social construction in a purposeful manner and thus exert control over the realm of the imaginable. While the brunt of the social construction of the world goes on unintentionally, worldviews, attitudes, and beliefs can be objects of intentional manipulation. Yet such a manipulation requires more than persuasive rhetoric or sophisticated gestures that appeal to salient symbols. It has to be supported by lived experiences, either gained first hand or by observing and listening to others. In other words, it has to relate to facts – and these can be manufactured. It is widely accepted that beliefs help make sense of experiences. However, beliefs are no less dependent on experiences. Experience is constitutive for what we believe ―is‖. Therefore, strategic constructivism, as understood here, is the purposeful creation of facts by political entrepreneurs using material action in order to impose their worldview. Theory-wise, such an epistemological stance suggests a mechanism-based approach. The use of social mechanisms and processes as building blocks in theory development and for causal inference in qualitative so-called small N studies has been advocated with increasing frequency (e.g. Beach and Pedersen 2013; Bennett and Checkel 2012; Hedström and Ylikoski 2010; Checkel 2006; Hedström 2005; George and Bennett 2004; Mayntz 2004; Elster 1998). The theoretical leverage and epistemological thrust of a ―mechanismic worldview‖ (Gerring 2007) is, however, still debated, but for the present purpose several features can be identified. In the social sciences the interest in mechanisms was stirred by the critique of covering-law approaches, the undue reliance on covariation, and the black-boxing of the causal processes at work. More generally, the general focus of much contemporary research on predictions based on the assumption of a lawgoverned social world has been questioned (Mayntz 2004: 241). Gerring suggested that for explanatory purposes the most general definition of ―mechanism‖ – its ―core meaning‖ – would be ―the causal pathway or process leading from X1 to Y‖ (2007: 6). The term ―mechanism‖, according to Mayntz thus ―refers to recurrent processes linking specified initial conditions and a specific outcome‖ (2004: 241). More specifically, mechanism statements make explicit ―how, by what intermediate steps, a certain outcome follows from a set of initial conditions‖ (Mayntz 2004: 241). In Elster‘s words, they are the ―nuts and bolts, cogs and wheels‖ in the explanation of complex social phenomena (1989: 3). The goal of the scientific endeavor then is to make them visible and intelligible. Mechanism-based accounts thus describe ―a constellation of entities and activities that are organized such that they regularly bring about a particular type of outcome. We explain an observed phenomenon by referring to the social mechanism by which such This point highlights an irony inherent to much constructivist work. For all its insistence on the power of ideas and the constructed-ness of the social, the end result seems rather fixed and constraining. Moreover, constructivist arguments often smack of teleology since they reconstruct the past from the vantage point of the present. The construction thus seems to be out of necessity – things had to become like this. Therefore, constructivism, especially when it comes to ethnicity or nationalism is crypto-primordialist. 153

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phenomena are regularly brought about‖ (Hedström 2005: 25). Mechanisms therefore come in the form of causal propositions and stand for ―sequences of causally linked events that occur repeatedly in reality if certain conditions are given‖ (Mayntz 2004: 241).154 Put this way, mechanism–based approaches address the question of how rather than why something came about. They operate bottom-up highlighting the generative processes or trajectories in an attempt to causally reconstruct the path that led from an initial condition to a specific outcome. Obviously, the focus here is on social processes and their realistic description, not on abstract laws. What we are looking for are ―the most continuous spatio-temporal sequences that we can describe at the finest level of detail that we can observe‖ (Gerring 2007: 7-8). This implies that mechanism-based approaches display a tendency to search for microlevel processes in order to explain higher level phenomena.155 In the social sciences this move, known as causal regression, demands that we search for individual-level explanations.156 Writes Hedström: ―Aggregate or macro-level patterns usually say surprisingly little about why we observe particular aggregate patterns, and our explanations must therefore focus on the micro-level processes that brought them about‖ (2005: 8). The focus on mechanisms allows us to produce an explanation of macro-social phenomena as based on individually meaningful actions. From this perspective, mechanisms are necessarily actor-centered. We can understand ―why actors do what they do if we assume that their behaviour is endowed with meaning, that is, that there is an intention explaining why they do what they do. To understand why actors do what they do is not sufficient, however; we must also seek to explain why, acting as they do, they bring about the social outcomes they do‖ (Hedström 2005: 5). Therefore, Hedström argues, the intent of the mechanism-based approach, ―is that we explain a social phenomenon by referring to a constellation of entities and activities, typically actors and their actions, that are

Ontologically, social mechanisms have been defined as ―ultimately unobservable physical, social, or psychological processes through which agents with causal capacities operate, but only in specific contexts or conditions, to transfer energy, information, or matter to other entities‖ (George and Bennett 2004: 137). Yet, on more aggregate levels, where mechanisms represent compound structures of such individual-level transfers of energy, information, or matter, mechanisms are readily observable, of course (see e.g. Gerring 2007; Mayntz 2004). 154

More recently, however, the conceptual scope of social mechanisms has been broadened. Tilly, for instance, distinguished three types of social mechanisms (2003: 20-1): environmental mechanisms which capture relations between social circumstances and their environment, cognitive ones which capture alteration of individual and collective perceptions, and relational ones which capture changing connections among social units. Tilly‘s first type of mechanisms clearly lacks an individualist perspective and thus it might be asked whether it is appropriate to use the notion of social mechanism at all for these interactions (but see Bennett 2013). 155

The notion of methodological individualism comes to mind but for conceptual reasons it is more appropriate to talk about ―structural individualism‖ (Hedström and Ylikoski 2010: 60). 156

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linked to one another in such a way that they regularly bring about the type of phenomenon we seek to explain‖ (2005: 2). What precisely is the added value of such an approach? Mechanism-based theorizing; I argue, provides a framework for coherent analytic narratives which, as mentioned before, take the form of causal reconstructions of historic processes (also Büthe 2002). Given that social mechanisms are usually associated with the search for micro-foundations, mechanism-based approaches have a heuristic value since they help us to identify new causal paths and thus provide for new perspectives on the historical record by shedding light on obscured facets of the story. Beyond and above that, a more ambitious goal would be the generalization of specific mechanisms and processes across a class of phenomena (Mayntz 2004: 238). This, of course, depends first of all on the level of conceptual abstraction of the mechanisms and processes at hand. The more abstract they are, the easier is it to apply them across the board – think of mechanisms like ―cooperation‖ or ―competition‖. However, the more specific they become, the more their working depends on the circumstances, that is, on the particular contexts in which they operate. This is what Elster wanted to emphasize when he defined mechanisms as ―frequently occurring and easily recognizable causal patterns that are triggered under generally unknown conditions or with indeterminate consequences‖ (1998: 45). Generalizing mechanisms and processes for a given class of phenomena thus always means contingent generalization (George and Bennett 2004: 216). It requires a close engagement with the empirical materials in order to identify the scope conditions under which the hypothesized mechanism operates. After all, good theories do not need to distort reality and resort to stylized facts to make their point. For the present purpose, a mechanism-based approach best fits the idea captured by the concept of strategic constructivism. Interrelated meaningful actions contribute to create a world that is perceived as natural but whose system of meaning is not necessarily the one that informed the actions in the first place. Actions and meaning, social relations and cognitive categories constantly interact. Yet, attempts to master those relations do exist. This is what my thesis is about. The resort to arms by militant nationalists becomes intelligible once we consider that the mechanism of provoked escalation of violence constitutes the building block of the combined process of identity transformation and legitimation. As regards methodology, mechanisms and processes are wedded to what is known as process-tracing. As Checkel pointed out, ―To invoke process is synonymous … with an understanding of theories based on causal mechanisms. To study such mechanisms, we must use a method of process tracing.‖ (2006: 363). Processtracing has been defined as ―a data analysis method for identifying, validating, and testing causal mechanisms within case studies in a specific, theoretically informed way‖ (Reilly 2010: 734). In the words of two of its most

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prominent proponents, it ―attempts to identify the intervening causal process – the causal chain and causal mechanism – between an independent variable (or variables) and the outcome of the dependent variable‖ (George and Bennett 2004: 206). To resort to process-tracing essentially means to trace the historical process of interest with a clear theoretical focus. ―The narrative,‖ according to Reilly, ―functions as an explanation in which the movement through time and space of the process or event under investigation is deliberately couched in an analytic framing of interactions with the dynamics that will explain the phenomenon of interest‖ (2010: 735). It describes how an event unfolded, though not strictly chronologically as it converts ―a purely historical account … into an analytical explanation couched in theoretical variables that have been identified in research designs‖ (George and Bennett 2004: 225). Beach and Pedersen coined this ―theory-centric process tracing‖ (2013: 11). Historical narrations, as the preferred form of presentation, thereby assure that the different stages in the theorized process remain contextualized. It has been argued by Büthe that historical narratives, although they tend to offset the parsimony gained by abstract theorizing and modelling, ―allow for the incorporation of nuanced detail and sensitivity to unique events, which may be necessary to understand the particular manifestation of an element of the model but which are beyond the model‖ (2002: 486). Yet, he insists that historical narratives can be used to ―test‖ models of complex historical process or at least provide ―evidence‖ that supports their plausibility (2002: 482). Narratives, in particular, can ―provide empirical support for original theoretical propositions‖ and thus probe the latter‘s heuristic value given that theory-centric process tracing permits ―the integration of rigorous theorizing and the study of historical processes in a manner that is attentive to, and respectful of, the historical record‖ (Büthe 2002: fn.2, 482). The narrative here turns out to be ―a structured focused empirical ‗test‘ of the hypothesized mechanisms and processes‖ (Beach and Pedersen 2013: 11). It shows whether available evidence suggests that the hypothesized causal mechanism was present and functioned as theorized – or not. The likely payoffs are evident. The heuristic value of the mechanism-based theoretical framework I offer can be assessed through narratives since its formalized presentation increases its transparency and, in turn, ―facilitates the scrutiny of the argument‘s assumptions and internal logic‖ (Büthe 2002: 490). Additionally, the conceptualization of key elements of the framework helps me to identify the elements which are specific to the historic setting and those which are potentially generalizable. What is more, given that the narratives I provide are structured similarly, they become commensurable and thus can be compared with the aim of contingent generalizations. Indeed, according to Büthe, it is by the use of multiple narratives that we can increase our confidence ―that the model indeed captures the key dynamics of the process‖ (2002: 488). He continues: ―Using multiple narratives is appropriate because models should be applicable to more than a single instance if they have the benefits of capturing what is generalizable‖ (Büthe 2002: 488-9). Put otherwise, process-tracing

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along my theoretical framework in similarly structured historical case studies allows me not only to provide for a different perspective on the historical record in each of the cases at hand but also to assess what is historically specific to each and what potentially generalizable across and perhaps beyond them.

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PART TWO: PALESTINE, KOSOVO AND QUÉBEC

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Out of the population of twentieth century violent nationalist conflicts I have selected three in order to apply my theoretical framework and thus assess its plausibility, heuristic value and potential for contingent generalization. These are the struggles of those we know today as Palestinians, Kosovo Albanians or Kosovars, and Québécois and the role Fatah/PLO, KLA, and FLQ played in them. In the spirit of the idea of structured, focused comparisons, I intend to show three things in and across the three cases (George and Bennett 2004: 67).157 First, if and how political violence was used according to my theoretical framework. Second, and still in accordance with my framework, I will have to probe its effects and consequences with regard to the nexus of identity and legitimacy. Third, this requires digging into history in order to retrace the evolution of the conflicts in question. This puts me into a position to gauge what I call the productive effect of the violence provoked by the groups I analyze. The assumption of similar process and mechanisms underlying armed nationalist struggles makes the three groups interesting cases of comparison. I claim that the armed groups analyzed share a single political rationale for the use of violence. In fact, they all employed violence for political rather than military ends. None of these groups had the resources to prevail in an open military confrontation with the states they opposed. The militants rather focused on achieving a political victory by gaining political power. The key to such a victory, as they understood, was the mobilization of the people and the assertion of their nationhood. The militants were aware of the fact that representing a nation which, by definition, is considered sovereign is a position of power regardless of one‘s military resources. Insofar as a military victory was envisaged, it was considered quasi inevitable once the people had taken the right consciousness. Indeed, in all three cases militants announced that they sought to end their people‘s passivity, make them realize their dismal situation, and encourage them to take their fate into their own hands. Violence was supposed to work as an awakening call – a powerful signal that things had to change and that history could be made rather than endured. The nation, so the militants thought, had to become more combative, uncompromising in its quest for a state, and ready for sacrifices to achieve its right and become free. This, however, was easier thought than done. The three groups under discussion perceived themselves as leading a vanguard movement. Finding themselves in a minority position on the fringes of the political spectrum, they felt that they embodied a state of mind and displayed a resolve that the nation as a whole was lacking. If they were to succeed in their undertaking, the nation had to be transformed or reconstructed in their image. This implied that they had to take the lead and thus assume a representative role in the nation‘s struggle for a state. The political struggle of According to George and Bennett, ―structured‖ implies that general question reflecting the research objective are formulated and asked of each case under study. This should help us to guide data collection and make a systematic comparison possible. ―Focused‖ means that only certain aspects are analyzed (2004: 67). 157

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the militants, before being directed against the state or the states they faced up to, was about the allegiance, identification, and support of their people. In short, violence was first and foremost used to gain their hearts and minds. It was all about popular mobilization. The idea of mobilization as the political rationale underpinning the use of violence guides the following case studies. Each of the three case studies is organized in similar ways. I begin my analyses with the histories of the respective conflicts. This is followed by a discussion of the armed militant nationalist groups that interest me here. The third section of each narrative then tells selected episodes of the groups‘ armed struggle. The fourth sections then assess the fallout of these episodes in terms of their impact on collective identity and political legitimacy, the latter of which I see as a function of the former. The conflict histories I present are detailed narrations of the origins of the conflicts and their developments up to the point when the armed groups I focus on enter the stage. Shifts in political borders and boundaries receive great attention since these constitute the institutional molds in and against which the violent politics of nationalism take place. I also take care to show how the parties to the conflict transformed over time and were constructed as such in the course of the conflict. This is to avert the trap of a teleological perspective unfortunately prevalent in the debate on nationalist conflicts. There is, as I try to show, no immanent logic, nothing inherent to the parties by which the developments we observe were predetermined. Rather, conflicts for power are open-ended when it comes to identity. That they take on the form of nationalist conflicts is the result of the ideology of nationalism and of the normative horizons it established. It is not the result of there being nations lying in waiting to impose themselves on the world as sovereign states. Only by taking such an approach does it become possible to unearth the productive effect of violence, that is, its formative impact on identity and thus its contribution to the nationalists‘ struggle for legitimacy. The second sections introduce the militant groups. They are the ones struggling for legitimacy by having recourse to violent means. By their actions, they are the agents of identity transformation. I look at their history, discuss their political ideology, and analyze their armed strategy. With regard to their ideology I focus on their nationalisms and the scope of the political programs they developed. As mentioned in the introduction, I identify in all three cases a more or less pronounced a gap between the nationalism they initially advocated and the eventual outcome of the struggle in terms of political preferences and identity constructions. Regarding the strategic use of violence, I assess to what extent it followed a logic of legitimacy as compared to a logic of tyranny. In particular, I seek to prove the presence of a strategic rationale that aims at mobilizing people by provoking an escalation of violence, that is, transforming people‘s identity as a nation.

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In the third sections, I recount episodes of attempted and successful escalations of violence where armed force was used to provoke the authorities. I thus pinpoint the workings of the mechanism of armed provocation. The state‘s response, if taking the form of a violent overreaction, prompts collective action on the part of those victimized which, in expressing their newly found consciousness as distinct political community, signals their rejection of the status quo. This delegitimizes the powers that are while armed nationalist militants emerge as legitimate representatives of ―their‖ people. The fourth sections then look at the fallout of this process with regard to identity and legitimacy. I first assess the formative impact violence had on the shape and thus appearance of collective identity. The behavioral shifts induced in the episodes mediate a transformation of identity. The legitimacy the militants gain internally is then translated in external legitimacy against the normative backdrop of the discourses on self-determination and human rights. If successful, their attempts to take the lead at home result in support from abroad as the capacity to rally people for the struggle is seen as a plebiscite confirming their standing as legitimate representatives. Yet, it is only after the fact that the immediate effects of violence reveal their long-term consequences for collective identity.

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CHAPTER FOUR: Palestinian Nationalism and Political Violence: Fatah’s Palestinianism and the Emergence of a Palestinian Nation

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INTRODUCTION The history of Palestinian nationalism is one of unexpected political success in the face of crushing military defeat and repeated political failure. It is the story of the unintended and belated emergence of a people as a nation, invoking the right to determine their future within the boundaries of the territories occupied by Israel in 1967. After more than two decades of armed struggle, out of an amorphous and fragmented group of Arabs hailing from the territory of historic Palestine, emerged a Palestinian nation whose right to a state of its own is now widely recognized. This development has been the work of the Palestinian Liberation Movement – better known as Fatah. Fatah‘s political strategy was determined by a firm belief in the virtues of popular armed struggle. But its ideological loadstar was Arab nationalism rather than Palestinian nationalism, which was almost nonexistent until the 1980s. Fatah, formed in the late 1950s by a group of refugees, was meant to be the Palestinian contribution to the all-Arab struggle against Israel. Fatah‘s founders were convinced that the only way to liberate their homeland and return was by the force of arms. It was up to the Arab nation to redeem Palestine since the territory usurped by the Zionists in the first Arab-Israeli war was Arab land. From this perspective, Fatah envisioned Palestinians as vanguard in the quest of the Arab nation for unity and independence. It was Egypt‘s President Nasser, the champion of Arab nationalism, who made Palestine its cause sacrée. Until the 1967 War, many believed that the liberation of Palestine would be achieved by the Arab nation under his leadership. Indeed, in the early 1960s, Nasser fostered the Palestinization of Arab nationalism, approving the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in 1964. The idea of Palestinians as Arab vanguard thus gained an institutional expression. In spite of initial concerns, Nasser also ended up supporting Fatah, which refrained from joining the PLO until 1968, when it took control of it. The PLO would provide Fatah with a structure to advocate its Palestinianism, that is, the goal to invigorate the Palestinian people in order to make them fulfill their assigned role in the Arab struggle. As an ideology, Palestinianism was firmly embedded in Arab nationalist thinking. It was by an unlikely turn of history that Palestinianism eventually emancipated itself from the Arab nationalist framework and transformed into a distinct political identity (see Baumgarten 2005). Fatah, by seeking to mobilize Palestinians for the popular armed struggle, made Palestinians in their image. The recurrent episodes of escalating violence provoked by armed Palestinian militants, the so-called fedayeen, became a formative experience for the Palestinians and defined them as such. The Nakba, the catastrophe of victimization, dispossession, and flight in the wake of Israel‘s creation already distinguished Palestinians from other Arabs.

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The ramifications of Fatah‘s armed struggle, waged in the name of Palestinianism, now provided a shared understanding of what it meant to be a Palestinian. It conferred to hapless victims a self-view as a people in its own right, combative and uncompromising in its goal. However, the people‘s liberation war Fatah had envisaged did not take place and Palestinians never came close to playing their designated role of an Arab vanguard. What is more, Arab states proved neither willing nor capable to deliver them and redeem Palestine. While Palestinians remained at the center of Arab nationalist rhetoric, Fatah‘s armed struggle revealed to the Palestinians the myth of a single Arab nation. This was not intended. The fedayeen rather pursued an escalatory strategy, aimed at pressing its demand for Arab solidarity, which brought the Palestinians into conflict with Arab regimes and eventually estranged Arab populations from the Palestinian cause. The fedayeen, in their quest to salvage the Arab nationalist struggle, not only took on the vilified Zionist entity but repeatedly clashed with their Arab allies. As to the Palestinians, they not only had to endure Israeli occupation. They also suffered from army raids and, more than once, got caught in the whirlwinds of civil strife in their Arab host countries – all provoked by the fedayeen. The armed struggle secured Fatah an unrivalled legitimacy among Palestinians. It enabled it to take over the PLO and, in the early 1970s, to secure itself international recognition as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. But, instead of welding a united Arab front, all the Palestinian armed struggle did was to show that Palestinians were different from other Arabs. Arabs from Palestine turned out to be Palestinians rather than Arabs tout court. And in the 1980s, Palestinians realized that they stood alone. Fatah‘s strategy to use the armed struggle as a means to make Palestinians into an Arab vanguard had the paradoxical effect to make them into Palestinians first and Arabs only second. The armed struggle helped Fatah/PLO to gain legitimacy and to put Palestinians on the political map internationally. Yet, facing Israel‘s might and let down by fellow Arabs, Palestinians were still no closer to the goal of reclaiming their lands. The goal of liberation by the force of arms was replaced by the demand for selfdetermination. By now, Palestinians perceived themselves as a people apart and were widely recognized as such. But because of the demographic and political developments since 1948, it was only in the Occupied Territories (OTs), that is, in the parts of Palestine seized by Israel in 1967, that self-determination was feasible. Only within these bounded territories would the presence of a Palestinian-majority population allow claiming a Palestinian state. It was an uprising in the OTs that became the game changer in the conflict over Palestine. What is now known as the Intifada erupted in the fall of 1987. The Palestinianism Fatah/PLO had promoted for so many years now

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materialized in a Palestinian nationalist revolt. The focus of Fatah/PLO‘s struggle shifted toward the Occupied Territories, and the armed struggle for liberation waged by refugees turned into a nationalist movement in the name of self-determination. Before long the world recognized the Palestinians‘ right to a state in the West Bank and Gaza with Jerusalem as its capital – at least in principle. The erstwhile Arab refugees from Palestine had become a Palestinian nation, their self-understanding shaped by the armed struggle of the fedayeen (Khalili 2007). In twenty years of armed struggle, all the fedayeen had achieved was to consolidate the existence of a stateless people distinct from its Arab brethren. Though unintended, this is a remarkable outcome. But the political price the Palestinians had to pay was high. Having already lost those who had remained in Israel after 1948, the Palestinian community is now divided between those within who constitute the polity in expectation of self-determination and those without, the refugees in the diaspora, who not only have de facto forfeited their right to return to the land now being Israel but are also not actively taking part in the making of a Palestinian ministate. In order to gauge the path breaking nature of the developments described here, let us have a brief look at the composition of those said to constitute the Palestinian people. In the middle of the twentieth century, if there were any ―Palestinians‖, this was a mere geographical designation for Arabs with roots in the territories of the British Mandate to the west of the Jordan River valley. The boundaries of the lands nowadays known as Palestine and which were to provide the basis for the PLO‘s definition of Palestinians were sketched by the Allied Powers at the conference of San Remo in 1920. Although used before, ―Palestine‖, until then, never stood for a clearly demarcated entity. After 1948, the refugees were Arabs whose homeland had been absorbed into newborn Israel. They were scattered across several countries and jurisdictions, politically no less unified than cognitively. All they had in common was the experience of dispossession and occupation while they shared with other Arabs a single cultural space defined by the use of Arabic and the influence of Islam. The better-off among them assimilated into the societies of their host countries whereas those living off the land, having lost their livelihoods, were stuck in squalid camps. The ones who had stayed in those parts of Palestine not taken by the Zionists found themselves under Jordanian or Egyptian authority and with them many refugees. Still another group comprised those who had remained in what now was Israel. They were considered suspicious by Israelis and Arabs alike. The June War of 1967 rendered the constellation even more complex as the newly occupied territories in the Gaza Strip and the so-called West Bank were home to an Arab-majority population now under military rule. In

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addition to that, the West Bank had been annexed by King Abdallah in 1950, a move that dramatically altered Jordan‘s demography. Since then, Palestinians are a majority in Jordan – something that became a serious embarrassment to the royal palace when Palestinians began to mobilize as Palestinians (the status of the West Bank since 1967 notwithstanding). For all those nominally Palestinians, the idea of a Palestinian nation remained an abstract concept until the late 1980s. It lacked any basis in history save for the borders imposed by the Mandate and the subsequent experience of the Nakba. If there was any overarching political identity beyond locale, region, or religion, it was Arab nationalism – the quest for the unification of all Arabs under a single political roof. In the wake of the First World War, a first attempt to realize Arab independence under Hashemite leadership was sabotaged by the Mandate powers, namely, Britain and France. In the late 1950s, when Nasser staged his Arab nationalist revival, the Arab world comprised several states already. Early twentieth century Arab nationalism had transformed into a pan-Arab project. Nonetheless, the dream of unity was kept alive. The Palestinians were to greet Nasser‘s message with enthusiasm. Politically fragmented and scattered across the region as they were, Arab nationalism was the only political project that held the chance of recovering their lands.158 The idea of a single Arab nation had the additional advantage of integrating Palestinians wherever they were. Thus, they embraced it wholeheartedly making it their dominant political identity. Until 1967 Palestinians had put all their hope into Nasser, but the Arab debacle in the June War changed their perspective. The renewed defeat at the hands of the Israeli Army exposed the contradiction between the reality of several Arab states and the rhetoric of a single all-encompassing Arab nation. The Western-imposed states in the Levant prevailed and developed their own local nationalisms. This contradiction is reflected in the Arab notions of qawm and watan respectively. Whereas the former refers to the Arab nation in the sense of a people of common descent, as in al-qawmiyya al-„Arabiyya – Arab nationalism, the latter means homeland or region. The notion of wataniyya can thus be translated as patriotism but, until late, was not used to define particular nationalisms within the Arab world.159 However, to the disdain of many Palestinians, in Arab capitals, the interests and exigencies of watan now seemed to prevail over the duty imposed by the idea of qawm. It had to be remembered that it was only at the end of the First World War that the Western idea of the nation-state was introduced into a cultural and political context still dominated by local identities and the concept of ummah, the community of believers, with the Caliphate as its political expression. 158

Writes Muslih: ―Until this date, there is no Arabic name for Palestinian nationalism, or Syrian nationalism, or any other form of state nationalism in the Arab world. Arab does not lack a name for nationalism. In fact, the word wataniyya means state nationalism, but is simply used as an adjective to modify a movement, a party, or a trend. Terms such as al159

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Lacking a state of their own, the incompetence of the Arab states to advance the Palestinian cause forced Palestinians to reassess their role as an Arab people. If the Arab nation failed to unify in order to liberate Palestine, so the thinking went, it was up to the Palestinians to become the vanguard of the Arab nation and lead the process of unification and liberation. Fatah‘s Palestinianism gained in popularity. Yet, the success of Palestinianism went hand in hand with a stronger emphasis on Palestinian particularism in terms of culture and politics. For the Palestinians, the struggle for their homeland, watan, was certainly compatible with the quest to mobilize the Arab nation – qawm. With the appeal of Arab nationalism declining after 1967, Palestinians became its new champion. Before long, they found themselves caught in the contradiction. Palestinianism, although still formulated within the ideological framework of Arab nationalism, introduced a differentiation between Arabs, on the one hand, and Palestinians, on the other. Instead of helping the Arab nationalist cause and thus furthering the liberation of Palestine, Palestinianism undermined it. The notion of watan gained in importance and the more orthodox Arab nationalist rivals of Fatah lost out. None would acquire the level of legitimacy Fatah came to enjoy in the 1970s. Nonetheless, there was still no sign of a Palestinian nationalism, worth of the name. Although the idea of a Palestinian state surfaced in the PLO‘s debates, the goal of total liberation was maintained and this required addressing the Arab world as a whole. But it became increasingly clear that Palestinian interests, albeit formulated as interests of the Arab nation, increasingly diverged from the interests of the Arab regimes. The Palestinians, with their uncompromising and combative stance, became a nuisance and eventually loathsome. Fatah and the fedayeen movement Fatah initiated resorted to a strategy of armed provocations to mobilize the Palestinians and Arab populations more generally. What worked to rally Palestinians led to a succession of political and military disasters when it became used as a means to enforce solidarity with the Palestinians and their cause. In 1970, Jordan‘s King Hussein was first to confront the fedayeen when they openly challenged his sovereignty. The Lebanese were to follow a few years later, eventually helped by Syria, formerly the staunchest backer of the fedayeen in the region. Meanwhile, Egypt, the erstwhile powerhouse of Arab nationalism, began to disengage from the Palestinian issue. Nasser‘s successor Anwar Sadat showed more interest in recovering the Sinai, lost in 1967, than in supporting the unruly Palestinians who now claimed the role of standard-bearers of the Arab cause. In the early 1980s it was obvious that the Palestinians had exhausted the Arab nationalist theme. The idea of an Arab nation awaiting its resurrection had lost its evocative power and the Arab nation‘s self-declared

wataniyya al-Filastiniyya (Palestinian nationalism) or al-wataniyaa al-Surriya (Syrian nationalism) have been rarely used, despite the fact that these terms are grammatically and idiomatically correct in Arabic‖ (1988: 4).

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vanguard stood alone. However, by now Palestinians had evolved into a people in its own right yet without a feasible nationalist project of its own. The Intifada would change that putting the OTs at the center of Palestinian politics. The parameters were set for Palestinian nationalism to make its appearance on the stage of world politics. In the present chapter I intend to show how the strategic use of political violence by the fedayeen fostered the rise of Palestinianism as a dominant political identity among Palestinians and eventually led to the emergence of Palestinian nationalism. For Fatah, the armed struggle was aimed above all at the Palestinians. The recurrent episodes of escalating violence caused by its operations made both Palestinians and observers experience Palestinians as a people distinct from other Arabs. The categorical difference established by Nakba was infused with meaning and became politically consequential. Fatah‘s violent promotion of Palestinianism forged a political identity among Palestinians which it embodied best. The success of Palestinianism legitimized Fatah‘s struggle and later the PLO and turned Palestinians into a political factor to reckon with. On the following pages, I first sketch the rise of Arab nationalism and the coming into being of Palestine as a territorial entity. The appeal of Arab nationalism and its alternatives is traced back to their function as ideological frameworks through which, it was hoped, Western encroachment could be rolled back and thus the Zionist project of a Jewish state in Palestine. Palestine turned into a field of struggle because of the Mandate regime devised by the League of Nations in the aftermath of the First World War and because of the accompanying British pledge to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland on its territory. The Mandate, which lasted until 1948, witnessed the rise of an ever more vicious anti-Zionism among parts of Palestine‘s indigenous population but without evolving into a nationalist movement – either Arab or Palestinian. The second part addresses the major ideological strands of the post-war period. After the 1948 war and Nakba, Palestine, most of which now constituting Israel, became the touchstone of an Arab nationalist revival but its conservative Hashemite version clashed with Nasser‘s revolutionary interpretation of it. In the shadows of this ideological confrontation, some refugees began to promote their Palestinian particularism, presented as a specifically Palestinian version of Arab nationalism. Several decades later and with Arab nationalism in its different versions having proven a failure, Palestinian nationalism emerged. I then turn, in the third part, to the central players in the Palestinian political arena, namely Fatah, the ANM, and the PLO. Their respective origins as well as organizational and programmatic evolution are laid out. The subsequent two sections look in greater detail at Fatah. I discuss its ideology and goals focusing on the

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themes of Palestinianism, armed struggle, and the issues of liberation and statehood. I then analyze Fatah‘s strategy of armed struggle thereby showing how my concept of tyranny and legitimacy as two logics of political violence do indeed apply. Then follows a historical narrative of several episodes of escalating violence covering the period from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s. I highlight the escalatory intent in these episodes in order to show how they contributed to the ascent of Fatah‘s Palestinianism and eventually gave way to a Palestinian nationalism. The remainder of this chapter then looks at the outcome of Fatah‘s armed struggle in terms of Palestinian political identity and international legitimacy. Fedayeen action shaped the self-perception of Palestinians and established norms of what it means to be a Palestinians. This gave substance to the transformation of the former Arabs from Palestine into a Palestinian people and then to a nation in its own right. Yet, the new signifier went hand in hand with a shift in the composition of those signified. The Palestinian nation as constituted in the OTs left out those in the diaspora. However, the emergence of a Palestinian people was the basis for Fatah‘s political legitimacy among Palestinians and helped it to be recognized internationally. Although rooted in the refugee population, its standing at home and internationally allowed the PLO to take the leadership of the Intifada and reinvent itself in Palestinian nationalist terms.

I) FROM THE EMPIRE TO PALESTINE The origins of the conflict over Palestine are located in the early twentieth century. Under Ottoman rule the area we nowadays identify as Palestine did not constitute a single political entity. In economic as well as in political terms it was of secondary importance only. 160 Most of its territory was arid, sparsely populated, and firmly in the grips of feudalism. Were it not for Jerusalem as a religious center, Palestine would have remained the hinterland of major regional hubs like Beirut or Damascus. What eventually made Palestine into a flashpoint of regional conflict and international politics was Jewish immigration and the rise of Zionism, especially as Great Britain became its foremost promoter in the wake of the First World War. The perceived threat constituted by Jewish immigration and, later, Zionism led to soul-searching among Palestine‘s Arab elites. For many years Ottomanism and the Caliphate had been the dominant frameworks within which they sought support against Western imperialist onslaughts. As it became clear that the Porte was It would not have occurred to anyone to establish a Jewish homeland in the Syrian heartland, for instance. Damascus, Aleppo and Beirut were political and economic centers and to apply there the Zionist slogan of a land without a people for a people without a land would have been considered absurd. 160

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in no position to defend its possessions in the Levant, their shared Arab-ness in distinction to the Turks and other Ottoman populations became emphasized. Arab nationalism held the promise of collective action with the goal of Arab political independence. Yet, the development toward political unity met with inter-Arab animosities and was obstructed by the imposition of the Mandate. The Mandate regime, devised by the League of Nations, carved up the former Ottoman provinces in the Levant, the geographic area medieval Arab authors had designated as Bilad al-Sham or Greater Syria with Damascus as its historic center. Palestine was severed from the rest of Syria and came under British control. London‘s pledge to support the establishment of a Jewish homeland, made in the Balfour declaration of 1917, exacerbated the latent conflict between autochthonous Arab populations and newly arriving Jewish settlers. The separation of Palestine from the Syrian heartland resulted in the rise of a distinct political identity among Palestinian notables. The political developments during the Mandate period, above all the struggle against Zionism, stirred up their patriotism. Although one may detect here an early precursor to late twentieth century Palestinian nationalism, the Arab populations of Palestine were still lacking a shared understanding of themselves as political community. Widespread hostility toward Zionism notwithstanding, the Mandate period was marked by internecine struggles that weakened their stand. After the creation of Israel in 1948 and until late in the twentieth century it was Arab nationalism rather than Palestinian nationalism that provided the struggle against Zionist usurpation with an ideological framework and Palestinians themselves with a political identity. It seemed the most promising avenue for the re-conquest of the lost lands and offered an integrative identity given their fragmentation into several communities when many of them had become refugees. The repeated disappointment of the hopes put in Arab solidarity, however, would push Arabs from Palestine to assert their Palestinian-ness. Fatah‘s Palestinianism, the idea of Palestinians as vanguard of the Arab struggle would prove central to this development.

1) THE RISE OF ARAB NATIONALISM Among the Muslim populations of the Ottoman Empire the role of the Porte as protector against Christian encroachment and the shared Islamic heritage made it difficult for other cultural markers, first of all language, to define alternative political communities. Anti-Ottoman resistance until the end of the First World War was defensively motivated – a kind of last resort for populations stuck between a centralizing empire, which seemed increasingly frail, and the assertiveness of Christian foreign powers and their protégés among the

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Empire‘s populations. Indeed, nationalist ideology was first absorbed by the Empire‘s Christian populations. Among Muslims it was more of a reaction to Ottoman decline than directed against it. In Syria and on the Arabian Peninsula uprisings erupted in 1910/1911. They strained the unity provided by shared religion but remained without revolutionary consequences (Finkel 2007: 522). Although a sense of shared Arab-ness grew stronger, separatism remained a minority position. ―Prior to World War I,‖ writes Dawisha, ―the majority of the Arab population were not ready for a break with Istanbul, and the small minority who formed themselves into oppositional groups demanded little more than an improvement in their social and political conditions within the Empire‖ (2003: 33, his emphasis). Yet, times were about to change. The First World War would destroy the unity the Caliphate had provided for more than 500 years. During the war, Syria experienced anti-Ottoman activism but it failed to translate into a nationalist movement. The Empire still commanded the loyalty of important sections of the society. Of all places then, it was in the Hejaz – home to Islam‘s most holy places – where the revolt claiming secular Arab nationalism took off. 161 Paradoxically, what became known as the Arab Revolt spread from this Ottoman backwater rather than from the Arab heartland.

The Arab Revolt It is commonplace to present the Arab Revolt as the touchstone of Arab nationalism. Yet, its nationalist credentials are debatable. For whatever appeal Arab nationalism had gathered by now, for the Hashemite dynasty ruling the Hejaz its adoption was above all expedient. Hussein Ibn Ali, the Sharif of Mecca, and his sons had to cope with growing Ottoman assertiveness and were hard pressed by tribes from central Arabia – in particular the al-Sauds – in a struggle for pre-eminence in the peninsula. In any case, it was the Entente powers and not the revolt that brought the Empire down, the myths spun by T.E. Lawrence, the famous ―Lawrence of Arabia‖, notwithstanding. The reasons behind the revolt are rather prosaic. The Porte‘s centralization drive and particularly the penetration of the Hejaz by a railway line appeared threatening. New laws curtailed the province‘s autonomy and risked confining the Sharif to religious duties (Wilson 1991: 211). However, challenging the Ottomans bore Syria, with Damascus as the political and cultural hub of the Levant, would have been the place for an Arab uprising to commence. Some had hoped so, but they were disappointed. Indeed, the war brought increasing financial hardship to the province as levels of taxation increased and the Allied blockade exacerbated a famine that held Syria in its grip at that time (Finkel 2007: 531). Anti-ottoman political activism, however, was heavy-handedly repressed as the province came under Jemal Pasha‘s rule. In 1915-1916 he purged the Ottoman Fourth Army of Arab units, had leading Arabs deported and others executed (Finkel 2007: 531). ―Cemal‘s harsh regime in Syria,‖ writes Finkel, ―made for widespread Arab resentment, though this had yet to take the form of nationalism‖ (2007: 531). 161

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serious risks. ―Husayn knew that the Hijaz could not stand alone. … If he were to destroy the framework of empire, he would have to replace it with another sort of framework…‖ (Wilson 1991: 213). Arab nationalism provided the idiom to stake claims to lands beyond the Hejaz, in particular to Greater Syria. By claiming the title of King of all Arabs, the Hashemite dynasty could break free from the confines of the Hejaz and, by ruling the Levant, secure its continued existence. The idea of a secular Arab nationalism had emerged earlier in the century. Sati al-Husri is said to be its ―intellectual prophet‖ (Dawisha 2003: 49). Born 1882 into a Syrian Muslim family, al-Husri developed the idea of the cultural unity of all Arab-speaking people (Dawisha 2003: 2).162 Inspired by early nineteenth century German nationalism he projected a single Arab culture which bore the imprint of Islam but could not be reduced to it. What made Arab people one beyond the religious divide was their unique culture as expressed by their shared language. This cultural bond required to find a political expression. The goal of Arab nationalism was the union of all Arabs ―under one roof in one unified and sovereign Arab state‖ (Dawisha 2003: 4). The greater Arab homeland thus projected reached from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and, for some, even further to the Atlantic. All considered, it appears that the Hashemites did not so much act upon Arab nationalism but adopted it – and in the case of two of the Sharif‘s sons, namely Faisal and Abdallah, with sincerity. The territorial scope of Hashemite claims was determined in meetings between Faisal and secret Arab nationalist groups in Syria in early 1915. The so-called Damascus Protocol stated that in return for British recognition of an Arab state, they would stage an uprising against the Porte.163 Sharif Hussein then corresponded with the British High Commissioner in Egypt, Sir Henry McMahon and proposed to enter into an agreement with Great Britain in the name of the ―Arab nation‖ and in return for an ―Arab Khalifate of Islam‖, as outlined in the Protocol (quoted in

Al-Husri received his education in French and Turkish in Istanbul and later went to study in Europe. Upon his return he joined the Ottoman bureaucracy and held senior posts in the Balkan provinces where he witnessed anti-Ottoman stirrings (Dawisha: 2003: 49). 162

The projected state ran ―in the north along the 37th parallel (roughly the southern boundary of present-day Turkey), bounded in the west by the Mediterranean Sea, Sinai and the Red Sea, in the east by Persia and the Persian Gulf, and in the south by the Arabian Sea‖ (Paris 2003: 24). 163

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Paris 2003: 29). The answer he got seemed to signal that London was ready to strike a deal.164 That the revolt eventually materialized with British support, however, was due to an accident of history.165 Arab nationalism, as I argued before, was expedient since it held the potential to endow the Hashemites with political legitimacy as they ventured out of the Hejaz to impose their rule on the Levant (Wilson 1991: 213-4). In addition, it helped to justify to fellow Muslims why the Sharif dared to ally with a Christian power against the Sultan-Caliph and appealed to latent anti-Ottoman sentiment among many Arabs. More importantly however, the concept of nationalism worked well with the Western powers, especially given that racist prejudices favored Arabs over Turks.166 As Wilson finds: ―The Husayn-McMahon correspondence shows clearly that in negotiating with Britain, the Sharif consciously adopted the language and terms of nationalism. In a sense, he chose an idiom that was especially comprehensible to European sensibilities‖ (1991: 212). Faisal entered Damascus in October 1918. Arab support for the British attempt to strike the Ottoman Empire aback had been successful. He now set off to realize the dream of an Arab state in the lands of historic Syria and declared an independent Arab constitutional government. Time had come for the British to fulfill their part of the deal agreed on between the Sharif and McMahon. Yet, by now it was clear that they had made conflicting pledges to France and the Zionists that ran counter to the establishment of a Hashemite Kingdom along the lines of the Damascus Protocol. Moreover, Faisal was a stranger to the lands he sought to rule. A

McMahon promised that if the Arabs supported Britain in the war, London, in turn, would support the establishment of an independent Arab state under Hashemite rule in the Arab provinces of the Ottoman Empire. Although McMahon thus seemed to accede to Sharif Hussein‘s demand he did so with qualifications and in vaguest terms possible. Later, the content and status of the Hussein-McMahon correspondence would become an issue of controversy. 164

The Arab Revolt, in fact, can be considered as a side effect of a disastrous war planning on the part of the British Empire. The stalemate on the Western Front had shifted the focus on the Eastern Front. In order to weaken the Central Powers it was imperative to relive Russia from their stranglehold by opening the supply route to the Black Sea ports via the Bosporus. This meant taking out of the equation the Ottoman Empire which had joined the Triple Alliance. The audacious plan to land troops on the Gallipoli peninsula, on the shores of the Marmara Sea, was a dismal failure. Istanbul remained out of reach. In reaction, the planers moved further east and, with Egypt as launch pad, a campaign in the Levant was devised. Bedouin forces under Hashemite leadership were to act as auxiliary forces and tie down Ottoman troops in the Hejaz in order to allow General Allenby‘s troops to move along the coast up north coming from the Sinai. 165

From a Western perspective things may have appeared to be much clearer than they were on the ground. The Egyptian Gazette, a British newspaper published in Cairo since 1880, could declare in 1913: The struggle is between Semitic Mohammedan and Turk Mohammedan. Race is a fundamental fact. And the Turk physically differs from the Arab as a drayhorse differs from a Derby winner. Greater still is the difference intellectually and spiritually, between the slow, placid, steady, autocratic, materialistic, unspeculative, unaesthetic Turk, and the quick-witted, restless, democratic, political, romantic, artistic, versatile Arab (re-quoted in Finkel 2007: 524). 166

For a European audience these were much rehearsed racist stereotypes and they suited Great Britain‘s geopolitical interests at that time.

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son of the Hejaz, his Bedouin troops had not much in common with the urbanites of Damascus or Aleppo. Conflicts were in the making. In order to legitimize his new administration Faisal ―vigorously extolled the virtues of the larger Arab identity‖ (Dawisha 2003: 41). The message he tried to convey was that they were all Arabs – as had been the Prophet. The reform of the system of education he sought to implement was devised ―with the purpose of infusing future generations with the nationalist spirit‖ (Dawisha 2003: 42).167 All this was to no avail. Sections of the old Syrian elite who felt that they were losing in Faisal‘s state allied with political forces seeking the creation of a Syrian not an Arab state (Muslih 1991: 171-3). 168 Also, the Arab people did not display much enthusiasm for Faisal‘s plans, and it is plausible to assume that Arab nationalism remained an abstract concept to most of them – especially when compared to the universalism of Islam and the predominance of local identities. Not without a dose of acrimony, Lawrence would lament later: ―The Semites‘ idea of nationality was the independence of clans and villages, and their ideal of national union was episodic combined resistance to an intruder. Constructive policies, an organized state, an extended empire, were not so much beyond their sight as hateful in it. They were fighting to get rid of Empire, not to win it‖ (1935: 100). Although domestic conflicts obstructed the consolidation of his rule, it was the Great Powers who eventually dismantled Faisal‘s fledgling state. With the war still raging on, Britain, France, and Russia had made arrangements with regard to their future spheres of influence in the domains of the Ottoman Empire. The secret Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 had divided Greater Syria into French and British zones, along a line running east-west cutting across the Ottoman vilayets – or provinces – comprising it. Yet, after the war, the status of the Arab lands in the Levant remained the subject of intense negotiations. In May 1919, on the sidelines of the Paris Peace Conference, the French and British Prime Ministers Lloyd and Clemenceau met and confirmed, albeit in slightly modified form, the zones defined in Sykes-Picot (Heikal 1996: 38). With the British conceding on French control over much of Syria, Faisal was hard-pressed to preserve his Arab state. In early 1920 he signed a deal with France‘s Prime Minister Clemenceau accepting Lebanese

The activities were manifold. ―Textbooks were translated into Arabic, historical and social studies were expected to reflect Arab nationalist concerns, and an Arab academy was established to find Arabic terms for scientific and technological use‖ (Dawisha 2003: 42). The presence of Christians in Faisal‘s administration is another indicator of the Arab nationalist character of the fledgling state. 167

The structural problems besting the Arab nationalist government were several. Besides the regionalisms to which I will return later there were traditional animosity between Damascus and Aleppo, the reluctance of notables to submit to Faisal‘s government for fear of losing power, and the old religious divided that made Christians and especially Maronites hesitate about the new state. 168

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independence and French suzerainty. However, back home in Damascus, the deal stirred the ire of Arab nationalist circles. It was rejected and, on 7 March, the Second Syrian Congress proclaimed the United Syrian Kingdom and declared the reluctant Faisal King. The territorial claims of the Kingdom ran against the FrancoBritish division of the Levant as it insisted on a Greater Syria including Lebanon and Palestine.169 It was the illfated apogee of Arab nationalism and of short duration only. In April 1920 the principal allied powers met in San Remo and endorsed the Franco-British entente thus effectively denying Faisal‘s Kingdom any legitimacy. It was decided that Palestine, Syria, and Mesopotamia represented separate entities and would be placed under British and French tutelage respectively. Syria and Mesopotamia should be ―provisionally recognized as independent States, subject to the rendering of administrative advice and assistance by a mandatory until such time as they are able to stand alone‖ (Allied Powers 1920). Great Britain was to take charge of Mesopotamia while France got Syria. Palestine, included in the British Mandate, was officially designated as the place where London‘s pledge to support the establishment of a ―Jewish National Homeland‖, made in the Balfour Declaration of 1917, would be realized. France, in light of the preceding events, had no interest in co-opting Faisal anymore.170 In the summer of 1920 they dealt him a crushing defeat at Mayaloun and pushed him out of Damascus and into exile, leaving Britain to search for other ways to compensate its Hashemite clients. 171 This led to a further fragmentation of Arab lands into separate entities that were poised to become independent states.172 Already in the summer of 1919, the General Syrian Congress had outlined its goals in a memorandum presented to the American King-Crane Commission: 1. …absolutely complete political independence for Syria within these boundaries: the Taurus System on the North; Rafah and a line running from Al Jauf to the south of the Syrian and Hejazian line to Akaba on the south; the Euphrates and Khabur Rivers and a line extending east of Abu Kamal to the east of Al Jauf on the east; and the Mediterranean on the west. (…) 169

6. We do not acknowledge any right claimed by the French Government … refuse that she could assist us… 7. We oppose the pretensions of the Zionists to create a Jewish commonwealth in the southern part of Syria, known as Palestine, and oppose Zionist migration to any part of our country; … a grave peril to our people… Our Jewish compatriots shall enjoy our common rights… 8. …no separation of the southern part of Syria … nor of the littoral western zone… (quoted in Laqueur and Rubin 1985: 31-3). The government of Alexandre Millerand, who replaced Clemenceau in early 1920, was less indulgent with the Hashemites. And a year later, Aristide Briand, then Prime Minister, told the British that ―the French did not desire an Arab ruler in Syria, Sherifian or otherwise, but envisioned a federated system of local administrations‖ (Paris 2003: 169). The creation of Greater Lebanon, in particular, required subduing Arab nationalism. 170

France, considering the declaration of independence an usurpation of its rights, ―issued an ultimatum demanding that Faysal accept the French mandate and recognize French control over the country‖ (Dawisha 2003: 43). Pretending not to have received an answer, General Henri Gouraud, commander of the French forces in the Levant, marched his forces 171

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The Mandate period threw the foundations for the creation of several Arab states instead of one. From an Arab nationalist perspective, this constituted a clear-cut case of a policy of divide and rule. Not without reason, it was perceived as a Western-devised plot to weaken the Arabs. From now on, Arab nationalism was to advocate collective action across borders in order to unify the Arabs and return them their lost greatness. But the consolidation of the political entities created by the Mandate system took its toll. Local patriotism, referring to the notion of watan, undermined the appeal of idea of an Arab nation, represented by the concept of qawm. Arab nationalism, as far as it inspired the Arab political mind, became a pan-ideology. With a unified state receding into the distance, it turned into an expectation of unconditional solidarity among Arab states and peoples. In fact, Arab rulers seemed preoccupied with maintaining their own fiefdoms and more often than not appeals to pan-Arab nationalism were mere justification for meddling in one‘s neighbor‘s affairs in pursuit of idiosyncratic interests. Faisal‘s interlude in Damascus would perhaps have been forgotten were it not for its evocative power. Its government ―was the first actual realization of the ideals of Arab nationalism‖ (Dawisha 2003: 43). For Arab nationalists, the fateful episode represented all the ills that were conspiring against the realization of their utopia.173 Lack of internal unity and external machinations had aborted Fayal‘s attempt to unify the Arabs politically. The creation of separate Arab entities in the Mandate period put further obstacles in the way to unification. What followed were only so many attempts to revive an idea which history had outlived. Yet, what ultimately kept the Arab nationalist imaginary alive until late in the twentieth century was the presence of a common enemy – Zionism. The separation of Palestine and the creation of Israel, the so-called Zionist entity, in the former Mandate territory came to stand for all the West was doing to keep Arab might at bay. In the second half of the twentieth toward Damascus and duly occupied the city on 24 July 1920. The British then sent Faisal to Iraq, now a British Mandate, where he was crowned in August 1921 as King of Iraq. In March 1921, at a conference in Cairo, Churchill, then head of the Colonial Office, imposed his ―Hashemite solution‖ on the gathered British Middle East officials. Sharif Hussein would stay in the Hejaz, Faisal be sent to Baghdad and his brother Abdallah would be offered the lands to the east of the Jordan Valley, the future Kingdom of Jordan (Paris 2003: 166-8). They were to become the Arab version of the India‘s Nabobs – to be played off against each other if need arise. Indeed, it seemed as if Churchill had managed the unlikely feat to live up to Britain‘s conflicting pledges to the French, the Zionists, and the Hashemites without compromising Britain‘s own interests – were it not for the Arabs of Palestine. 172

The history of the Arab Revolt is somehow shrouded in myths – not least because of T.E. Lawrence and the Arab nationalist historiography. How much genuine nationalism was involved has become a matter of debate. Argues Dawisha: ―The Great Arab Revolt came to be enshrined in nationalist memory and historiography as the patriotic spark that would ignite the Arab nationalist movement … In reality, however, the terms on which the revolt was originally launched had little to do with Arab nationalism‖ (2003: 34-5). Sharif Hussein had been a loyal supporter of the Ottoman Empire against the unruly tribes of the Arabian Peninsula. It was by force of circumstances that he sided with the British. 173

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century, the struggle against Israel would become Arab nationalism‘s raison d‟être. Having first turned to Faisal‘s Greater Syria to assert the Arab character of Palestine against Jewish immigration, the Mandate period prompted Palestinian leaders to focus on Palestine as a political entity in its own right. But after the First Arab-Israeli War, the experience of dispossession made Arabs from Palestinians eagerly embrace Arab nationalism in the hope to redeem their lands.

From Greater Syria to Palestine Palestine, as we know it today, would only become a unified political entity in 1922 when the provisions of the Mandate were ratified by the League of Nations.174 Under Ottoman rule, Palestine did not constitute a separate political entity. From 1888 until the end of the First World War, the future Mandate territory of Palestine was part of three administrative entities. The north of the coastal area fell within the vilayet of Beirut (the sandjaks – or districts – of Acre and al-Balqa) whereas the region to the east of the Jordan Valley fell within the vilayet of Syria or Damascus (the sandjaks of Hauran and Kerak/Ma‘an).175 The south of Palestine, to the west of Jordan and the Dead Sea down from Jaffa to Rafah (today‘s border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt), was part of the sandjak of Jerusalem, an autonomous district with direct representation in Istanbul. As regards demography, Palestine‘s Arab population had slightly increased since the mid-nineteenth century from about half a million to 660 000 in the 1920s (Baumgarten 1991: 32). Politically and economically, the community in Palestine was dominated by about 250 families. The political class which hailed from these families was constituted by a mere 3 000 individuals who held sway over a native population whose male Muslim population was still two thirds illiterate in 1931 (Lesch 1973: 19). These notables were in their majority urbanites whose power derived from a feudal land tenure system and lucrative posts in the Ottoman administration. In fact, the reforms under late Ottoman rule had helped to consolidate their positions of power since they cemented the social stratification and added political to economic power. Meanwhile, the majority of the population was held in a position of political irrelevance. At the turn of the century, Jewish immigration to Palestine became increasingly perceived as a threat. But the Ottoman authorities appeared unwilling to take decisive measures in order to curb colonization. Pleas by In fact, the Palestine Mandate included the territory of today‘s Kingdom of Jordan whose eastern boundaries were not defined yet. However, article 25 of the Mandate introduced a distinction between the area west of the Jordan and the territory to its east. Within the mandated area to the west of Jordan Valley, the promises made to the Zionist movement in the Balfour Declaration were to be realized. The eastern territories were given to the Hashemites (see below). 174

In 1864 a new territorial-administrative system for the Empire based on provincial units, the vilayets, was introduced. Before 1840 Palestine, in its entirety, was governed from Damascus. 175

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deputies from Palestine in the Ottoman parliament to that effect remained unheard or even met with derision (Khalidi 1997: 186-7). The demise of the Empire in the wake of the First World War let the Arab Palestinian elite search for different ways to curb Jewish immigration and counter Western imperialist designs. The combined effect of the Balfour Declaration of November 1917 and the publication of the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement by the Bolsheviks a few weeks later signaled the dangers ahead. However, whereas some Palestinians joined Faisal‘s government in Damascus, the notable class was far from unanimous in its support of the Hashemites. 176 For many, looking toward Faisal and the Arab nationalism he championed was, above all, a pragmatic choice. Greater Syria, for the time being, seemed the logical choice in order to avoid Christian rule and fend off Zionism. Genuine support for Faisal‘s Arab nationalism came from among a younger generation of Palestinian politicians. They, as Muslih remarks, ―viewed as a retrograde and inconvenient step the creation of political and economic divisions between territories that had been only recently parts of a larger empire‖ (1988: 186). A Syrian state, more than just providing a better defense against Zionism, meant economic, social, and political reform. It would be a first step toward greater Arab unity and restoration of Arab might.177 They embraced Arab nationalism as framework for modernization. The geopolitical situation seemed promising. Had not President Wilson insisted on the need to take into account the wishes of the people in the reorganization of the formerly imperial domains in Europe and beyond?178 In early 1919 the first meeting of the Palestine Arab Congress was held in Jerusalem. Organized by the Muslim-Christian Association (MCA),179 the delegates resolved to endorse Faisal‘s Greater Syria. They

Porath remarks that during the war with the Arab Revolt in full swing one could find in Palestine ―positive expressions of loyalty to the Ottoman Empire‖ (1974: 24). As we have seen, the revolt was a product of the Hejaz. It had spared Palestine west to the Jordan since the Hejaz railway, the principal strategic asset in the region and main target of the Hashemite forces, ran to its east. The British troops under Allenby had moved northwards along the coast coming from the Sinai whereas Faisal‘s Bedouin warriors had fought along the inland railroad tracks in order to bind the Ottoman troops. 176

Muslih points out that the ―Information Office of the Zionist Commission acknowledged in its intelligence reports that despite their different viewpoints, the Palestinian Arabs were unanimous in combating Zionism and Jewish immigration‖ (1988: 186). 177

At the end of the war, the Anglo-French Declaration of 7 November 1918 announced that both countries would help in ―the establishment of government and administration deriving their authority from the initiative and free desire of the native population‖ (Paris 2003: 51). 178

The MCA was established in 1918 and comprised ―traditional heads of the community, the heads of the leading families and the religious communities, with Christians represented over and above their proportional strength in the populace‖ (Porath 1974: 32). It was an anti-Zionist organization which was supported by the British authorities as counterweight to the Zionists. 179

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stressed the Wilsonian principle of self-determination, denounced France‘s misrepresentation of the native population‘s desires and appealed to Great Britain for help in order to develop Palestine. 180 According to Pipes, the congress declared that Palestine was ―nothing but part of Arab Syria and it has never been separated from it at any stage‖ (1989). Palestine, it was argued, was bound to Syria by ―national, religious, linguistic, moral, economic, and geographic bonds‖ and should remain ―undetached from the independent Arab Syrian Government‖ (quoted in Pipes 1989). In the meantime, representatives of fourteen Palestinian villages and cities presented a petition to the Paris Peace Conference stating that ―Southern Syria‖, as Palestine was called, should be considered ―inseparable from the independent Arab Syrian government that is bound by Arab unity, and free from all foreign influence or protection‖ (quoted in Muslih 1988: 177). The American King-Crane Commission, which, in the spirit of Wilsonian ideals, had travelled to the region in order to assess the wishes of the populations concerned by the political reorganization of the territory, confirmed the popularity of these positions.181 Among the 1 800-odd petitions the Commission received, the demands for a united Syria and for independence gathered the largest support and more than two thirds ―were directed against the Zionist program‖ (quoted in Laqueur and Rubin 1985: 29).182 In its recommendation to the Paris Peace Conference, the Commission thus demanded that ―Syria be preserved, in accordance with the earnest petition of the great majority of the people of Syria‖ (quoted in Laqueur and Rubin 1985: 24). Some Palestinian leaders may have had apprehensions about Faisal‘s reign, but right after the war political pragmatism weighed in on the side of Greater Syria.183 ―In late 1918, the Palestinians considered Faysal (in the words of a French diplomat) the only Arab leader ‗capable of resisting the Jewish flood‘ into Palestine‖ (Pipes 1989). But the hopes put into Faisal proved misplaced. With the British wavering in their support and, more importantly, facing French assertiveness, he appeared ready to compromise over Palestine.184

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The somewhat inconsistent position has been explained by British lobbying against the French.

It was mandated by the United States government and tasked to assess the dispositions of the people in the former Ottoman territories regarding their political future. With the principle of self-determination in mind, the commission sought to survey local public opinion. Neither France nor Great Britain was enthralled by such an undertaking and the final report was withheld and published in 1922 only. It did not have any political impact. With hindsight, it seems that the King-Crane commission was clear-sighted with regard to the problematic nature of the Mandates as outlined at San Remo. 181

In the petitions from Palestine, the rejection of Balfour was the single most important issue, coming in front of independence and unity. 182

If we believe Pipes (1989), the MCA‘s overall president had doubts about rule from Damascus and the MCA Jerusalem branch, which he headed, went as far as to call for a separate government in Palestine politically associated with Syria. 183

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In early 1919, Faisal made a deal with Chaim Weizmann, who represented the Zionist Organization, in which he recognized the Balfour Declaration and the separation of Palestine from his Arab State on the condition that his demands for a kingdom were met. Meanwhile, in Damascus, young Palestinian Arab nationalist politicians pursued their attempts to pressure Faisal into an anti-Zionist stance, but the need to accommodate Zionism in the hope to curry favor with the British and find support against the French weighted stronger. The Palestinians in Faisal‘s government found themselves increasingly confronted with outright hostility of local politicians who loathed the upstarts from other Arab regions who flocked to Faisal (Muslih 1991: 173-4). Faisal‘s fall in the summer of 1920 sealed the fate of the unitary state and dealt a heavy blow to Arab nationalist ideology. Disappointed, Arab nationalists from Palestinian had to reassess their situation. Writes Muslih: ―The Palestinian Younger Politicians could no longer persist in their Arab nationalist pursuit. …. The character and development of their ideology became increasingly focused on a specific territory – Palestine – and on a specific group of people – the Palestinian Arabs‖ (1988: 201). They could not help but ―recognize that they were on their own against the British and the Zionists. From that point on, they sought to establish an autonomous Arab government in Palestine which would be ruled by themselves, not by politicians in Damascus‖ (Pipes 1989). This strategic reorientation was confirmed by the Third Arab Palestinian Congress meeting in Haifa in December 1920. The main purpose of the Third Arab Palestinian Congress was to respond to the impending Mandate regime for Palestine and its endorsement of the Zionist project. The meeting‘s resolutions prominently featured the demand for a government in Palestine ―chosen from the Arabic-speaking people who have been inhabiting Palestine until the outbreak of the War‖ (Muslih 1988: 207). What the delegates were aiming at, however, was self-governance under British tutelage (Porath 1974: 109). The goal to establish a Jewish homeland was denounced as being against the ―laws of God and man‖ (quoted in Porath 1974: 109). The British-run government should repeal ―the recognition of the Zionist Organization as an official body; the acceptance of immigrants; the use of Hebrew as an official language; the acquiescence in the existence of the Zionist and Zionist leaders‘ serving in high positions in the government‖ (Porath 1974: 109-10). The anti-Zionist stance could not be clearer.

In fact, in light of the principle of territorial division – agreed over by Sykes-Picot and confirmed since – the insistence on Greater Syria risked playing into the hands of France in its struggle with Great Britain for predominance in the region. The British, by now, had agreed to leave northern Syria to the French and stick to the agreement which secured them Palestine and Mesopotamia. ―Prince Faysal,‖ writes Pipes, ―saw the Zionists as a less pressing danger than the Maronites of Lebanon, was willing to work with the Jews if they could help him achieve his Greater Syrian goal‖ (1989). 184

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The Third Arab Palestinian Congress, whatever its political relevance at that time, inaugurates a new era. Politics, from a Palestinian perspective, turned Palestinian. Notably, any reference to Greater Syria now disappeared. Yet, afflicting the label Palestinian nationalism to this development seems inappropriate. Selfdetermination was not claimed in the name of a Palestinian nation but in the name of an Arab majority in Arab lands anxious to be pushed aside by Jewish immigration. Moreover, nationalism let alone self-determination remained quite abstract to the majority of Arabs. While one can discern an attempt to strengthen the Palestinian character and representativeness of the movement behind the Third Congress, namely, the creation of an executive committee on which the various regions of the country were represented, the invocation of self-determination was, above all, strategic (Muslih 1988: 207).185 ―By the end of 1920,‖ writes Muslih, ―the regional division between Syria and Palestine was complete. The idea of a unified Arab nation propagated in schools, barracks, in exile in Ottoman days, and in Faysal‘s Arab army gave way to new political divisions along Palestinian and Syrian as well as Iraqi lines after the tempestuous experience of the Arab nationalists in Damascus‖ (1988: 210). This is not to say that Arab nationalism was discarded, but from now on it had to compete with the reality of local patriotisms (watan). The proceedings of the Third Congress sketched the contours of a Palestinianism that was to evolve underneath the wings of Arab nationalist doctrine. For the Palestinians, the combined effects of the experience of Arab particularisms in Faisal‘s government, the facts created by the territorial reordering of the Levant under the Mandate regime, and, last but not least, the threat of Zionism had created a separate political arena. The protests and antiJewish riots that erupted in early 1920 presaged a tumultuous Mandate period.

Palestine under the Mandate The Covenant of the League of Nations provided the legal basis of the Mandate system in the Levant. Article 22 stipulated that the people of the deceased Empires who were ―not yet able to stand by themselves under the strenuous conditions of the modern world‖ would be better off under the ―tutelage‖ of those more advanced (League of Nations 1920). This meant that Britain and France, who dominated the League, were entitled to quasi-colonial authority over former Ottoman territories and its inhabitants. As mandatory powers the design of the respective regimes was subject to their whims. Although, in a nod to the principle of self-determination, article 22 cautioned that in the former Ottoman Empire the wishes of the populations concerned should be

The British High Commissioner for Palestine, Herbert Samuel, an avowed Zionist, questioned the representativeness of the Congress (Muslih 1988: 206). The formation of a political movement claiming the principle of self-determination for those subsumed under the category ―non-Jewish communities in Palestine‖ risked compromising the Zionist undertaking. Yet he had a point given that the attendees numbered only about thirty – all notables delegated from different regional MCA‘s. 185

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taken into consideration; in the case of Palestine honoring Balfour‘s pledge demanded ignoring that provision.186 The Palestine Mandate, concludes Porath, was ―in contradiction to the letter and spirit‖ of article 22 (1974: 43). 187 For many Arab Palestinians the Balfour Declaration stood for the threat Jewish immigration posed to the Arab character of Palestine and its native population. A Palestinian Christian-Muslim delegation sent to Great Britain in early 1921 to present the demands of the Third Palestinian Arab Congress failed to reverse the direction things were taking (Lesch 1973: 14-15). The British sought to assuage Arab fears and maintained that the Palestinian leadership made ―exaggerated interpretations of the meaning of the Declaration‖ (UK Government 1922). That the Jewish national home should be established in Palestine was not to mean that Palestine would become exclusively Jewish nor was the Zionist Organization aiming at administrative control over the country as a whole. These conciliatory statements notwithstanding, the Palestinian leadership continued to lobby against the implementation of the Balfour Declaration. The strategy of the Arab political leadership – initially represented by the MCA and later precariously united in the Arab Executive and the Arab Higher Committee – was to petition the British in the hope of a revision of the provisions of the Mandate regime.188 They argued that the Arabs had older rights to the land, had endured Ottoman oppression, and then had sided with the Allies in the war. It was also pointed out that they constituted a clear majority and were sufficiently mature as a community for self-government (see Porath 1974).189

The deal reached in San Remo had been between the allied powers Britain, France, Italy, and Japan. The consent of the defeated Ottoman Empire was assumed to be subject to article 132 of the Treaty of Sèvres. Yet Sèvres met with Turkish resistance (it was eventually replaced by the Treaty of Lausanne in 1923). This opened a backdoor to the British in their conflict with the Arab leadership in Palestine. London claimed that as long as the treaty had not been ratified by the defeated Empire a key provision of article 22 of the Covenant, namely, the taking into consideration of the wishes of the population, could not be realized. The benevolent tutelage of the Mandate system, after all, meant colonization. 186

The British were aware of the problematic nature of the Palestine Mandate. What they did was to insert a clause allowing them the creation of a sub-entity to the east of the Jordan Valley which would be exempted from the Zionist project. Article 25 of the Mandate permitted the addition of an annex to the Mandate which, in fall 1922, allowed establishing Transjordan as a separate entity within the Mandate territory. Since the Balfour declaration did not apply there, it remained free of Jewish immigration (much to the disdain of the Zionists, of course). 187

It is noteworthy that in order to stress the secular basis of their demands ―Christians were accorded at least proportional representation in the Arab congresses, on the Arab Executive, and on the delegations‖ (Lesch 1973: 19). 188

Another argument insisted that the alleged promises made in the McMahon-Hussein correspondence amounted to a treaty. This questioned the validity of the territorial divisions agreed at San Remo but London was adamant in insisting that Palestine to the west of the Jordan Valley had never been part of the projected Arab state (UK Government 1922). In fact, the exchange did not include an explicit promise of a Hashemite Arab Kingdom (see Paris 2003: 29-21). 189

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The implicit reference to the principle of self-determination in article 22 of the Covenant seemed promising. The Arab leadership reasoned that the legislative council the British had pledged to create would provide the majority with the means to restrict Zionist land purchases and, more generally, obstruct Jewish immigration (Lesch 1973: 34). Yet, political participation in the government of Palestine was made conditional on prior acceptance of the Mandate and the constitution which enshrined its very principles. It was a catch-22, and the legislative council was clearly designed to curtail Arab influence (Lesch 1973: 21, 27). The British-Zionist cabal would not allow the Arab representatives to take control of the institutional levers to block Balfour – and the council never went into working.190 With hindsight it is striking that in the first years of the Mandate the Palestinian Arab politicians, for all their talk about self-determination, seem to have been more concerned with currying favor with the Mandate power than with rallying their own people. Their activity was directed against Zionism rather than the Mandate as such. They largely refrained from invoking the concept of an Arab nation and did not claim the status of a distinct nation in its own right although, from a strategic perspective, framing their demands in these terms would have helped to counter Zionism on a normative level. After all, absent a Palestinian nationalism, their claims were those of an elite imbued with patriotic feelings. Scholars sympathetic with the plight of the Palestinians tend to interpret the conflict during the Mandate period as one between two nationalisms, one indigenous the other colonial. The oft-mentioned lack of political unity on the Arab side, however, highlights a phenomenon one might call ideological asymmetry, that is, the absence of a broadly shared nationalist imaginary within the majority population in comparison to the Zionism of the well-organized Jewish immigration. This does not mean that Arab nationalist thinking had vanished. Izzat Darwaza, an intellectual and nationalist political activist who had been in Damascus with Faisal, wrote in the summer of 1921: Palestine is a purely Arab land … it is surrounded on all sides by purely Arab lands. National (alqawmi) feeling has begun to awaken and gain strength among the Arab population which has lived uninterruptedly in its own territory. In Arab countries there are only pure Arabs and Arabicized individuals who know no nationality other than Arab and who all speak the same language. History has welded them into a single mass, and there is no possibility that another people, with their own language, customs and traditions and a contradictory political goal, could live with them (quoted in Porath 1974: 49). But, as Porath comments, ―Izzat Darwaza was not typical of the mood of the Arab community of the time … If there had been a strong feeling of belonging to a single Arab nation, of whose territory Palestine was a part, The British recognized neither the Arab Executive led by Musa Kazim al-Husseini (1920-1934) nor the Arab Higher Committee (formed in 1936) as representatives of the Arab population. Hence ―there was no legislative council in Palestine to provide a constitutional forum to air grievances‖ (Lesch 1973: 21). 190

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then the entire history of the Palestinians‘ struggle would have had a different character…there would have been no need for the numerous other arguments which the Palestinians put forward against Zionism‖ (1974: 49). The lack of a mass-based nationalist movement weakened the Palestinian Arab position. It made it easier for the British – and the Zionists – to neglect the wishes of the majority population and push through with their common project of a Jewish Homeland.191 The image of Palestinian Arabs as a community lacking nationhood is present in early official British documents. While these are obviously politically biased, their wording is revealing of the mentioned asymmetry. By 1922, according to the White Paper of that year, the Jewish community in Palestine had already acquired ―national ‗characteristics‘‖ (UK Government 1922). As to the Arabs, they were referred to as merely a ―population‖ implying that its quality as a political community in its own right remained undecided. Riots had erupted after the first official public reading of the Balfour Declaration in February 1920. Throughout 1920 and into spring 1921 a wave of anti-Jewish attacks rocked Palestine.192 Yet, Porath questions the political character of these incidences: ―The social variance, the strangeness in culture, customs and lifestyle, contributed a great deal to the Palestinian opposition to Zionism. … for the Arab masses, lacking in education and political and national consciousness, this strangeness and these apprehensions were a most important factor – perhaps the primary factor – in the growth of their hatred for Zionism‖ (1974: 60). The incapacity of the Palestinian Arab leadership to enforce non-cooperation with the government and the Jewish presence is another indicator of the absence of a national consciousness. Until the general strike of 1936, it proved impossible to realize a boycott of the foreign imposed structures. The most striking phenomenon is the continued practice of land sales to Jews. There was no shared sense of national duty that could force people to ignore skyrocketing prices for land and the lure of jobs on Jewish farms and in the administration. Writes Porath: ―A high degree of national consciousness would have been necessary for the Palestinian community to have ignored the personal benefit it stood to gain from Zionism and The principle of self-determination which would have favored the Arab majority would never apply to Palestine. As Chaim Weizman, president of the Zionist Organization, was to argue in 1930, ―Palestine was designed to solve ‗a worldwide problem‘ and therefore ‗the rights which the Jewish people has been adjudged in Palestine do not depend on the consent, and cannot be subjected to the will, of the majority of its present inhabitants‘‖ (quoted in Lesch 1973: 12). Such utilitarian arguments were supported by the emphasis on the Jews‘ ―ancient historic connection‖ to the land who were said to have ―‘national‘ characteristics,‖ as the 1922 White Paper stated. 191

Unrest was endemic. According to Lesch, riots erupted in ―February and March 1920, the former to protest the first official public reading of the Balfour Declaration in Palestine, and the latter to support the proclamation of Syrian (and Palestinian) independence by the Second Arab Congress in Damascus. The religious celebrations of Nabi Musa (the Prophet Moses) a month later degenerated into violent attacks on the Jewish quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem. And violence briefly flared up in Jerusalem on November 2, the anniversary of the Balfour Declaration‖ (1973: 26). 192

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to have fought it consistently‖ (1974: 306). Nationhood was still an alien concept for the majority of the Arab population of Palestine. The common denominator of anti-Zionism in Palestine might have been the preservation of its Arab character as Lesch, among others, has argued, but in the face of the undecided political identity of the Arab population this translated into competing if not exclusive political strategies. Longstanding animosities within the Palestinian Arab leadership exacerbated these conflicts and provided third parties with an opportunity to manipulate the political developments in their favor. The rivalry between the Nashashibis and the al-Husseinis, two of the leading families, has come to epitomize the internal divisions of the Palestinian Arabs under the Mandate. With each heading a political party, their mutual relations turned visceral in the late 1930s. The Nashashibis, whose social standing was of more recent origin, had long opposed the leadership of the alHusseini clan and their policy of non-cooperation with the British-imposed institutions (Porath 1974: 208). However, since the late 1920s, Musa Kazim al-Husseini and Raghib Bey an-Nashashibi sat together in the Arab Executive and negotiated with the High Commissioner. The riots that erupted in 1929 precluded an arrangement between them and the government. This traditionalist camp was soon to be challenged by ―a new generation of young radicals‖ (Porath 1974: 257). Foremost among them was Haj Amin al-Husseini. Haj Amin had begun his political career as an ardent supporter of Greater Syria, but Faisal‘s defeat made him change tack, and he would become the champion of a ―Palestine first‖ policy.193 Appointed as mufti of Jerusalem in 1921 and president of the Supreme Muslim Council in 1922, he rose to prominence after the Arab Executive had ceased working following the death of Musa Kazim in 1934 and the end of the fragile truce between the families. In 1936, Haj Amin became President of the first Higher Arab Committee (HAC).194 By now he was ―the outstanding political leader of the Palestinians‖ (Pipes 1989). As the Peel Report found: ―The functions which the Mufti has collected in his person and his use of them have led to the development of an Arab imperium in imperio. He may be described as the head of a third parallel government‖ (UK Government 1937). Since nationalism was far too abstract a concept for the majority of the people, Haj Amin‘s political strategy sought to harness religious sentiment. He stressed the need to preserve Palestine‘s Muslim character against the Zionist challenge referring to it as a holy country for Muslims, ―a trust (amana) of Allah, His Prophet, and all Haj Amin had taken part in the 1920 riots and was sentenced to fifteen years in jail. He fled to Syria and eventually was pardoned by High Commissioner Samuel. 193

Established in April 1936 the Committee was outlawed by the government in September 1937 when it cracked down on the Palestinian Arab leadership. It was reinstated thereafter. 194

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the Muslims,‖ which ―rests on Palestinian shoulders‖ (quoted in Litvak 2009: 102). Jerusalem‘s Haram al-Sharif was elevated to the symbol of the Arab anti-Zionist struggle: ―Instead of abstract nationalist slogans about selfdetermination, majority rights, etc., they now had a concrete symbol which was clearly understood by the Muslim masses‖ (Porath 1974: 272).195 As ideological framework, Islam proved more successful than secular nationalism as the events leading to the general strike of 1936 would show. In 1935, a small group of militants around Shaykh Izz ad-Din al-Qassam, a religious leader from the Haifa area and ally of Haj Amin, would launch an insurrectionist movement.196 Although al-Qassam was killed already in 1935, shortly after having taken to the hills, his actions triggered an unexpected strike movement under the aegis of the HAC, led by Haj Amin. It called for ―civil disobedience, the non-payment of taxes, and stoppage of municipal government‖ (Lesch 1973: 34-5). The spring of 1936 saw virtually all Arab businesses and transportation cease their operations. Arab government officials remained in place for fear of being replaced by Jewish staff but contributed money to the strike fund whereas the supply of the urban population with foodstuffs was organized through makeshift distribution centers (Lesch 1973: 35-6). The demands raised in the wake of the six-month-long general strike in 1936 called for ―the suspension of Jewish immigration, prohibition of land sales to Jews, and the formation of a national government responsible to a representative council‖ (Lesch 1973: 17). These, in essence, were demands that were on the agenda since 1921 but had remained unaddressed. The High Commissioner did not budge and in reaction to the announcement of a new immigration quota sporadic violence continued. London reacted to the unrest with a Royal Commission, known as the Peel Commission, which came up with the idea of the partition of Palestine into an Arab and a Jewish state. This only fanned the flames of rebellion. The wholesale arrest of Arab political leaders in the fall of 1937, rather than breaking the movement, further galvanized the people. The violence would last until 1939.197

Jerusalem or Al-Quds is considered the third holy place in Islam after Mecca and Medina. It was the first prayer direction of Islam and the place where the Prophet stopped by on his nightly journey and ascension. 195

They demanded a more assertive policy in opposing the government and had begun to contemplate an armed struggle in 1931, already (Porath 1974: 289). As we will see, the Palestinian historiography later elevated al-Qassam to the rank of national hero. 196

The riots of 1921 and 1929 had led to the temporary suspension of Jewish immigration and in Syria a strike led by nationalists had resulted in significant concessions by the French. Now, however, after six months of unrest ―the British government not only refused to suspend immigration this time, but in May it announced the next six-month labor migration quota‖ (Lesch 1973: 36). 197

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The Peel Commission Report of 1937, despite its negative reception on the ground, displays a changed perception of the forces opposing each other in Palestine. The idea of partition was based on the recognition of two competing national projects. Palestinian Arabs were now presented as capable as the Arabs in Syria or Iraq to govern themselves. Arab nationalism, the report argued, now held sway over Palestinian Arabs and was ―as intense a force as Jewish‖ nationalism. Palestinian Arab independence on a part of Palestine would allow them to ―co-operate on an equal footing with the Arabs of the neighbouring countries in the cause of Arab unity and progress‖ (UK Government 1937). The rationale informing the argument in favor of partition, however, was a practical one: the impossibility to overcome the antagonism between both communities. The escalation of violence was perceived as a visceral reaction caused by ―infinite Jewish immigration,‖ as another White Paper would later state (UK Government 1939). Continued land sales were said to have become a threat to the ―standard of life‖ of the Arab peasantry and risked to create a ―considerable landless Arab population.‖ A vicious brew of xenophobia and economic pressures thus upended the social fabric and fueled unrest. Arab opposition, in other words, was considered defensively motivated. The 1922 White Paper had emphatically stated that Jewish presence in Palestine was ―as of right and not on the sufferance;‖ now, consideration of the Arab population and their interests seemed expedient because of their suffering only. The Jewish nation, moved by Zionism, was juxtaposed to an indigenous opposition that was anti-Zionist before it was nationalist. The ambiguity in the Commission‘s analysis of the motive forces driving Arab action reflected the feebleness of the Arabs‘ nationalist consciousness. Perhaps nationalist in form, it was above all anti-Zionist in content.198 The general strike had displayed an impressive capacity of self-organization, but it lacked sufficient leverage to reach its goals. The armed uprising that followed on its heels and during which thousands were killed and jailed would highlight once again the lack of unity of purpose among the Arab majority population. The grievances of the peasantry which provided the backbone of the rebellion were disconnected from the diplomatic advances of the Palestinian Arab leadership. They worried for their economic survival rather than

There is no doubt that existing power relations cannot be underestimated in the assessment of the success of Zionism. And although it is clear that the British had scant interest in acknowledging the existence of an indigenous nation while it was promoting Zionism, it is undeniable that on the Arab side there was no –ism with a similar mass appeal – save perhaps for anti-Zionism. 198

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for the nation.199 The British, on their part, commanded sufficient means to quell the uprising and skillfully resorted to counterinsurgency strategy.200 The revolt did not galvanize Palestine‘s Arab population into a mass movement. Internal antagonisms continued to rage within the Palestinian leadership. In fact, most of the 5 000-odd deaths on the Arab side were due to Arabs killing Arabs (Tauber 2012: 14). Haj Amin‘s popularity had pushed the Nashashibis into the opposition. They sought to hedge their stakes by rallying Faisal‘s brother Abdallah, by now Emir of Transjordan. Abdallah, who owed his position to the British, was still looking for ways to expand his realm beyond the remainder of Palestinian lands London had reserved for him by virtue of article 25 of the Mandate.201 The 1937 partition plan for Palestine provided Abdallah with an opportunity to claim lands to the west of the Jordan Valley – lands he coveted since having been installed by the British. When the partition plan of the Peel Commission was published, Raghib Bey an-Nashashibi had officially declared his opposition, but ―in private [he] indicated that he would accept partition on more favorable terms, in the hope of becoming prime minister under Amir Abdallah in a united Transjordanian-Palestinian Arab state‖ (Lesch 1973: 37). Another Nashashibi, Fakhri Bey, then openly sided with the British and made public statements against Haj Amin (Lesch 1973: fn. 55). Supporters of the Nashashibi faction found themselves increasingly targeted by assassination attempts perpetrated by those siding with Haj Amin. Their stance, which is likely to be interpreted with hindsight as treasonous to the Palestinian cause, was in fact nothing but another opportunist move occasioned by the blurred contours of the community in whose name the political struggle against Zionism was waged. Against the impossibility to implement the partition plan, the 1939 White Paper was published (UK Government 1939). It dealt once again with questions of immigration quotas and land acquisition but also projected a socalled Palestine State. Within ten years, such an independent state ―in which Arabs and Jews share As the British were quick to understand, it was the land purchases by Zionist companies from absentee landlords and indebted peasants that caused anxiety among the rural populations. Anti-Western sensibilities only exacerbated the visceral reaction. Those apprehensions had already set off anti-Jewish attacks in the 1920s (Lesch 1973: 18-9). 199

British punitive measures included demolishing a large section of Jaffa, imposing collective punishments on villages, and detaining suspects without trial. The draconic measure met with success (for details, see Lesch 1973: 38). 200

In 1921, when Churchill had met Abdallah to announce him that the British had chosen Faisal over him for the throne in Baghdad (initially, in 1920, the Syrian Congress had elected him as King) he rejected the offer of Transjordan. He rather suggested either to combine Transjordan with Mesopotamia or to unite Palestine and Transjordan under a single rule (Paris 2003: 171). Churchill did not budge. With Damascus, the highest price, now out of reach, Faisal poised to get Mesopotamia, and a return to the Hejaz impossible, Abdallah accepted to stay in Transjordan for a transitional period of six month – it was to last his entire life. 201

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government in such a way as to ensure that the essential interests of each community are safeguarded‖ should be established (UK Government 1939). The Palestinian Arab leadership rejected it outright while the Zionists began to ratchet up their own goals. In May 1942, Ben Gurion declared that what the Zionists demanded now was no longer a mere Homeland but a sovereign Jewish state in Palestine.202 With the termination of the Mandate on the horizon, the stakes grew higher. On the ground, violence became endemic with recurrent clashes between Arabs and Jews and Jewish militias targeting British security forces. The Palestinian Arab leaders remained internally divided and militarily weak. King Abdallah, pursuing his own agenda, continued to conspire against an autonomous Palestinian leadership. Meanwhile, other Arab states launched several attempts to re-establish a functioning authority. The Arab League, founded in 1945, repeatedly intervened, and, after some reshuffling, the HAC was reconstituted with two al-Husseinis, Jamal Bey and Haj Amin at its helm.203 At the end, they would be overtaken by the events and prove incapable to influence the developments on the ground. In February 1947, the British gave up and decided to refer the Palestinian question to the United Nations. The United Nations Special Committee on Palestine (UNSCOP) was created in order to assess different options to end the conflict. It came up with a revamped partition plan, endorsed by the UN General Assembly (UNGA) Resolution 181 in November of the same year. Yet, the British refused to implement the plan and it was rejected by the Arab side.204 By now, the armed confrontations had evolved into a full-blown civil war which made the implementation unfeasible anyway.205 Anxious to cut costs, London resolved to let its Mandate expire on 15 May 1948. Amid continued violence Israel was to declare its independence the day before, on 14 May – a move immediately countered by invading Arab armies. However, the so-called First Arab-Israeli War failed to bring Palestine under Arab rule.

Ben Gurion presented the plan at a Zionist meeting at the Biltmore Hotel in New York – hence, the reference to the plan to establish a Jewish state in Palestine as ―Biltmore Plan‖ (a story that has certainly fuelled the conspirational theories which are at the heart of contemporary anti-Zionism). Note that the precise goal of the Zionist movement had been a hotly debated issue throughout the years. The Zionist right represented by the Vladimir Jabotinsky‘s Revisionist movement had always been adamant that the goal could only be a state. Ben Gurion, from the Zionist left, came a long way until he endorsed the idea (see Shindler 2002). 202

Internal squabbles and external interference continued and following a hiatus, the HAC, in name at least, reappeared in 1947 with Haj Amin at its helm. 203

The UN Partition Plan was less favorable than the one suggested by the Peel Commission. The percentage of territory reserved for the respective communities was 60/40 in favor of the Zionists albeit the Jewish population was only half that of the Arab one (600 000 and 1.2 million respectively). 204

The recently published reports of the last British High Commissioner, General Sir Alan Cunningham, offer a matter-offactl account of the chaos reigning in the last months of the Mandate (see Tauber 2012). 205

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Unable to reduce the Zionists by force, the Arab League, under Egypt‘s leadership, proclaimed a civil administration for Palestine in the Gaza Strip, still controlled by Arab forces. In September 1948 the HAC transformed itself into the All Palestine Government (Hukumat „umum Filastin) with Gaza City as its provisional capital.206 A Palestinian National Council met, made Haj Amin its President, and, in a vain attempt to invalidate the creation of Israel, declared independence. Meanwhile, the war had allowed King Abdallah to realize his goal and seize parts of Palestine across the Jordan Valley. In order to undermine Haj Amin‘s Gaza-based government, Abdallah gathered Palestinian notables in the territories occupied by his army. They were to declare their allegiance to him. The so-called All-Palestine Government, Abdallah argued, was illegitimate since only upon the liberation of all of Palestine should a Palestinian government be contemplated. For now, it was up to him, as Arab King, to take the Palestinians under his wings – and he went on to annex the lands not incorporated into the state of Israel that were to become known as the West Bank. In a conspicuous move, a Nashashibi was appointed military governor (Lesch 1973: 42). The former Mandate territory was now de facto portioned between Israel and Abdallah‘s Kingdom, save for the Gaza Strip which remained controlled by Egypt. Initial criticism by Arab states vented against Abdallah‘s opportunism soon ebbed as the territorial status quo was de facto recognized by the international community.207 The Palestinian Arabs bore the brunt of the costs of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War. What is known as Nakba – the catastrophe – ―cost the Palestinians their majority status in Palestine and their hope of controlling the country, and cost half of them their homes, land, and property‖ (Khalidi 1997: 178). Indeed, the consequences of the war and the creation of Israel were dramatic. Between 630 000 and 730 000 Palestinians were displaced in successive waves, and Israel razed more than 400 abandoned villages (Rubin 1994: 4).208 Israel‘s claim to sovereignty thus went hand in hand with a decisive transformation of the region‘s demography. After 1948 Arabs faced the fait accompli of an Israeli state with a Jewish majority population. The traumatizing experience of 1947/48 was followed by years of uncertainty and relative political passivity on the part of Palestinian Arabs.

The All Palestinian Government declared independence before the signing of the armistice agreements between Israel and Egypt and Israel and Jordan. From a historical perspective this move was of no actual significance but the Gaza government can be interpreted as precursor to the PLO‘s 1971 project of a Palestinian state and, as we will see, it was invoked during the Intifada to underscore the demand for statehood. 206

Abdallah would meet his death in 1951 in the al-Aqsa Mosque on the Haram al-Sharif. In company of his grandson, the later King Hussein, he was shot by a Palestinian allegedly paid by Haj Amin al-Husseini – an event later portrayed as revenge for his treason to the Palestinian national cause. 207

208

For an account of the destruction, see also Khalidi (1997: 179); on the refugee question, see Morris (2004).

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2) THE AFTERMATH OF THE NAKBA In the Arab world, the creation of Israel became widely seen as a Western plot directed against the Arab nation if not Islam as a whole. For the refugees, however, what mattered most were the immediate consequences of dispossession. Israel, for them, was more than a symbol of European imperialism, more than a reminder that Arabs had to reconnect with the glorious past if they were to face up to the West. Their longing for return called forth practical action in order to reclaim the homes and the lands they had left behind. But the Palestinian Arab political structures of the Mandate period were badly damaged. The ones in Gaza that remained were under Egyptian tutelage while Abdallah co-opted notables from the West Bank to assert his rule. Until the creation of the PLO in 1964, ―the Palestinians seemed to many to have disappeared from the political map as an independent actor, and indeed as a people‖ (Khalidi 1997: 178). With hindsight, we can say that the Nakba stands at the outset of a process in the course of which Arabs from Palestine emerged as a nation in its own right. In his chef d‟oeuvre on the formation of Palestinian identity Rashid Khalidi argues that, ―[i]f the Arab population of Palestine had not been sure of their identity before 1948, the experience of defeat, dispossession, and exile guaranteed that they knew what their identity was‖ (1997: 194). What I am going to show is that in political terms this shared experience represented only a potentiality which had to be realized first. In the beginning, Palestinians rather than championing the idea of Palestinian nationalism turned to Arab nationalism by stressing their Arab political identity. Indeed, although Faisal‘s defeat had aborted the Arab nationalist project of unification, it was the ideology most likely to help the refugees to return. It was only years later, in the second half of the 1960s, that the Palestinianism of a few activists would begin to politicize their sense of Palestinian particularism within the Arab nation. This set the stage for the emergence of the idea of Palestinians as a distinct people – an idea that eventually ushered in Palestinian nationalism in the late 1980s. Until then, the Palestinian struggle would take place within the ideological framework provided by Arab nationalism. Indeed, different variants of Arab nationalism clashed over the Palestine issue. The conservative Arab nationalism of the Hashemites would be challenged by the revolutionary variant of Egypt‘s President Nasser which, in turn, led to a distinctively Palestinian interpretation of Arab nationalism.

Conservative Arab Nationalism Following the Rhodes Armistice Agreement of 1949, King Abdallah annexed the West Bank to what was now the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. The move, perceived by many as blatant opportunism, reflected his self-

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perception as Arab ruler and custodian of Palestine. 209 His father‘s ambitions to create an Arab Kingdom from Persia to the Mediterranean were still on his mind. Yet, Abdallah, no less than his brother Faisal in Damascus and then in Baghdad, were newcomers to the places they sought to rule. When Abdallah had first set foot in Transjordan in the fall of 1920 – allegedly intending to march north on Damascus – the reception he received by indigenous Transjordanians had been lukewarm at best.210 To them Abdallah was a perfect stranger. The population of this sparsely populated land was heterogeneous and lacked any attachment to the accidental entity now ruled by Abdallah.211 Competition between its northern and southern parts, home to the few urban centers, was compounded by the presence of an unruly Bedouin population to whom the recently drawn borders meant little. They maintained historical ties across the region, shared tribal loyalties, and a tradition of feuding, all of which made it difficult for them to identify with the fledgling state. Yet, contrary to all expectations, with British help, Abdallah managed to consolidate his power.212 But the First Arab-Israeli War and the subsequent annexation of the West Bank in 1950 became a test of his rule. The war dramatically altered the Kingdom‘s demography. In its wake about 100 000 of the more than 630 000 Arab refugees arrived on the East Bank which, at that time, had an indigenous population of about 375 000. Meanwhile, the West Bank, home to about 425 000 people was literally overrun by 360 000 refugees (Sayigh 1987: 12-14; also Brand 1995). In 1950, after the annexation, Abdallah reigned over a population of 1.2 million – a more than threefold increase compared to the situation before the war. By what legitimacy could he claim the right to rule over these people? As in the early years of the Kingdom, the answer was to be found in the Arab nationalist pedigree of the Hashemite dynasty. Abdallah‘s reign was to rest on the Hashemites‘ aspiration to be Arab rulers. The political role they assigned themselves exceeded the confines of the territories the British had given them in the form of Transjordan and Iraq. Abdallah stood for a conservative version of Arab nationalism founded on the commitment to the

The transfer of Arab-held areas to Israel in order to consolidate Transjordanian control over the West Bank contributed to the outrage. 209

Some seem to have preferred British rule as indicated by the positive reactions to High Commissioner Samuel‘s visit in Salt where he met Transjordanian notables (note that Samuel, in contravention to London‘s policy, sought to prevent the division of the Mandate territory into a western and an eastern). Later, ―nativist interests‖ mobilized ―against a foreign British-Hashemite state staffed by the British and by a coterie of Arabs from neighboring countries‖ (Massad 2008). 210

Over the years merchant families and bureaucrats of Syrian, Lebanese, and Palestinian origin had settled in Transjordan. Other communities had emigrated from the Caucasus like the Circassians, a non-Arab Muslim group, which had settled there in the 1880s. 211

After the war, his father, Sharif Hussein, turned his back on the British in reaction to the Franco-English partition of the Levant. He was to pay it with his throne. 212

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liberation of Arab lands from foreign yoke and the dynasty‘s Islamic credentials as heirs to the prophet (see Brand 1995; Massad 2008). From his perspective, the unity of both banks of the Jordan was desirable since it prevented further fragmentation of the Arab world and kept Jerusalem in Muslim hands. The Kingdom of Jordan thus became an Arab non-nation-state with quasi-ecumenical ambitions. Such a stance also proved expedient absent a Jordanian national consciousness. One owed allegiance to the King, not to the nation or the state. Abdallah‘s personalized rule fit Jordan‘s fragmented polity with the additional advantage to leave the door open for further expansion. The claim to Arab leadership, however, made the dynasty vulnerable to the egalitarian message of nationalism. Following the eviction of the Hashemites from their fiefdom in the Hedjaz in 1924 and the end of the Hashemite dynasty in Iraq by a coup against Faisal II in 1958, it fell upon the young King Hussein to preserve the dynasty in the aftermath of Abdallah‘s death. For the years to come, Hussein would struggle to rally the populations from both banks in the face of mutual animosities and the growing popularity of a revolutionary version of Arab nationalism – among his Palestinian subjects in general and refugees in particular. After the war the palace had devised a liberal citizenship policy in order to work as a formal bracket manifesting the political unity of the two banks.213 Even before the formal annexation of the West Bank its indigenous population and those having taken refuge there were granted Jordanian citizenship. That Arabs from Palestine were different from native East Bankers was acknowledged but neither in national nor in ethnic terms, and the use of ―Palestine‖ to designate the West Bank was prohibited following annexation (Massad 2008; Sahliyeh 1988: 10). Given the absence of a Palestinian nationalism, this policy did not provoke opposition and many Palestinians would join the ranks of the Transjordanian political elite thereafter.214 But the fine line separating indigenous Transjordanians from Palestinians did not go away. The West Bankers, in particular, who had not been made refugees and were the largest group in the Kingdom, maintained a sense of difference and resented what they perceived as economic discrimination by the backward East Bank. In turn, among East Bankers tribal or clan affiliations weighted heavily and they tended to look at the newcomers from across the Jordan with suspicion (Brand 1995: 47-8). The integration of both

213

For details, see Massad (2008).

e.g., Prime Minister Muhammad Daoud, who gained notoriety in September 1970, or Anwar Nusseibeh, father of Sari Nusseibeh, who held different prestigious positions like the one of Jordanian Ambassador in London. 214

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banks remained a thorny issue and so did the integration of Palestinians even though the monarchy – rooted in neither of both communities – tried to mediate between them. In the late 1950s, the political climate changed. Gamal Abdel Nasser‘s grandiose rhetoric of Arab revival under Egyptian leadership captured the imagination of the masses. His successful stand in the Suez War in 1956 and the union of Egypt and Syria in 1958 amazed the Arab people and heartened the refugees. Hussein sought to counter this move by a short-lived confederation with Hashemite-ruled Iraq. But the short-lived Arab Union was not a match for Nasser‘s United Arab Republic (UAR) – at least in terms of popularity.215 In 1963, unrest broke out in the West Bank when Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, in another attempt to unite, announced a tripartite federation. The Nasserist leanings of the Palestinian Jordanians undermined the legitimacy of Hashemite rule and threatened to provoke an Israeli intervention, and the palace eventually resolved that it had to do something to about it.216 In 1964, Hussein agreed, albeit reluctantly, to the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO). Although the PLO was subservient to Nasser, he hoped to be able to control the organization by allowing it to operate in Jordan. But armed incursions from the West Bank into Israel by Palestinian militants operating independently from the authorities and with support from Cairo and Damascus – both now rivals of the Hashemite monarchy – became a major embarrassment in the second half of the 1960s. Anxious not to provide Israel with a pretext to invade the West Bank, Hussein sought to curb their movements – a move that angered many West Bankers who admired those known as fedayeen (fida‟iyin).217 An Israeli raid in November 1966, provoked by another attack, set off an anti-Hashemite protest movement in the West Bank. It looked like

215

Established in February 1958, it was cut short by the military coup against Faisal II in July of the same year.

The declaration, according to Shemesh, caused ―great agitation among the Jordanian Palestinians, who were proNasser to the core. In nationalist and opposition circles, hope grew for the long-awaited revolution or, at the very least, the establishment of a nationalist government, especially following the Ba‘th revolutions‖ (Shemesh 2002: 143-4). The Jordanian government was in a limbo but by the end of April the situation calmed down. The army was sent in to suppress the demonstrations; in major cities throughout the West Bank a curfew was imposed. Shemesh adds that it was during the April 1963 crisis that ―Jordan grew acutely aware of the likelihood of an Israeli capture of the West Bank in the event of a pro-Egyptian putsch or the rise of an Egyptian puppet-state in Jordan‖ (2002: 143). Already in 1956 Ben Gurion had made it clear that in the event of a regime change in Jordan Israel would consider the armistice null and void. It would not accept Arab armies other than Jordanian on the West Bank (Shemesh 2008: 107) 216

Fida‟is, in Arabic, means self-sacrifice. According to Mishal and Aharoni, fedayeen has ―a religious meaning. It refers to those who murder enemies of the true faith, a task designed by their masters as well-pleasing to God, and the execution of which will assure them of the joys of Paradise‖ (1994: 100). 217

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a replay of the unrest of 1963. This time, however, its Arab nationalist thrust had an undeniable Palestinian flavor.218 The erosion of Hussein‘s wit was aggravated by the Israeli occupation of the West Bank in 1967. His attempt to placate internal dissent by mending ties with Nasser cost him dearly when he made the ill-fated decision to agree to a joint defense pact with Egypt on the eve of the June War.219 Although the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) condemned the redrawing of boundaries by force in November, the defeat at the hands of the Israeli army put Hussein on the defensive. Yet, Israel let Amman keep its economic and administrative links with the OTs and allowed Hussein to disburse allowances in order to maintain the loyalty of Palestinian notables.220 A return of the West Bank under his sovereignty seemed a question of a few months‘ time.221 But the longer the occupation went on, the harder pressed he was to keep his subjects united. The notion of ―Palestinians and Transjordanians as two branches of the same family‖ became ―a hallmark of official speeches and media presentations‖ (Brand 1995: 51-2). If anything, this rhetoric revealed the deepening cleavage between both communities.222

The palace was scared of Palestinian Arab nationalist fervor. Based on Jordanian intelligence reports of that time Shemesh concludes that ―Jordan concluded that the PLO intended to set up a ‗Palestinian state‘ stage by stage in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. It judged that in the first stage the PNC (to be elected) would elect a government which would demand authority over internal matters of the West Bank and the Strip; in the second stage this government would attempt to have Jordan‘s annexation of the West Bank revoked and would then declare an independent ‗Palestinian state‘‖ (2008: 85). 218

Another reason was Hussein‘s belief that a war between Egypt and Israel had become inevitable. Writes Shemesh: ―Husayn allied himself to Nasir out of genuine fear that, in a comprehensive war, Israel would invade the West Bank whether or not Jordan was an active participant‖ (2008: 118). In joining Nasser he stood a chance to keep the West Bank without alienating the Palestinians. 219

The Israeli policy was one of repression of political activity but ―relatively large degree of self-government to the municipalities‖ including a family reunion program and municipal elections: ―Moshe Dayan … insisted on open bridges for the movement of peoples and goods between the West Bank and Jordan, as well as permeable borders between the territories and Israel‖ (Kimmerling and Migdal 1994: 242). In the first years after 1967 many West Bankers expected that a return to the status quo ante was only a matter of time. 220

There were voices calling for a return to Hussein‘s rule, of course. For instance, in October 1967, 129 prominent personalities issued a National Charter of the Arabs of the West Bank, ―protesting against occupation and calling for the re-uniting of the West Bank with Jordan‖ (Jamal 2005: 34) 221

In his speech to the nation in December 1968 King Hussein stressed that the struggle for the West Bank was a Jordanian goal: ―We in Jordan stand firmly west of the river and to its east. The Muhajirun and the Ansar members of the family in the east of the river, carry alone the burden of the strong standing right from the beginning‖ (quoted in FruchterRonen 2008: 248). The Muhajirun are those who followed Muhammad in his migration (Hijra) from Mecca to Medina; the Ansar are the Medinan citizens who helped Muhammad and the Muhajirun upon their arrival in the city. The allegory evokes the Islamic credentials of the Sharifian Hashemites and thus was meant to bolster Hussein‘s legitimacy. 222

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Having de facto lost the West Bank and threatened by the Palestinization of his Palestinian subjects, Hussein continued to emphasize the all-Arab dimension of the conflict over Palestine. He insisted that it was ―not a struggle between the Palestinian people and Zionism, but between the Arab world and Zionism … Mobilization of the Palestinians must be carried out within the framework of the general Arab mobilization‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 19). It was upon the Hashemites to spearhead the Arab struggle for the liberation of Palestine. The rationale for this Arab nationalist stance was that only within such a framework the Hashemite monarchy would preserve its right to represent the Palestinians.223 The catchphrase reflecting that view became: ―Jordan is Palestine and Palestine is Jordan.‖ But the fedayeen were not playing along. Things came to a head when the fedayeen turned against Hussein and blamed him for obstructing the revolutionary struggle for the liberation of Palestine. The ensuing civil war of 1970-1971 was to transform the character of the monarchy. A policy of Transjordanization of the administration followed, buttressed in the cultural field by an emphasis on Jordan‘s Bedouin heritage (Fruchter-Ronen 2008; Massad 2008). Writes Shemesh: ―In fact, Jordan‘s attempt to identify the Hashemite state with Filastin stood in contrast to its actual policy of ‗Jordanization‘ of the Hashemite Kingdom with special emphasis on the East Bank‖ (2008: 81). Fearing for his legitimacy, Hussein held on to the West Bank and continued to lure Palestinians with his rhetoric.224 In 1972, the West Bank still under occupation, Hussein announced his intention to reintegrate both banks in a United Arab Kingdom – in essence a federation of both banks which were to become autonomous provinces.225 But with the Israelis dragging their feet and the PLO registering growing levels of support, a reintegration became ever more unlikely. The West Bankers‘ allegiance to the monarchy was steadily eroding. But it took another decade until Hussein finally resolved to drop his claims to the West Bank – and only reluctantly so.

This position had been laid out as early as 1962 in a Jordanian White Paper. It argued that because ―Jordan unity has preserved what is left of Filastin,‖ Jordan was to be ―the Palestinian springboard for the liberation of Filastin‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 20). 223

For the Hashemites the West Bank remains important not least because of Jerusalem being the third holiest place for Muslims. Underpinning Hashemites legitimacy is their Sharifian heritage and their self-perceptions as custodians of Islam. Note that the peace between Israel and Jordan of 1994 explicitly recognizes Jordan‘s special role in the administration of the holy sites in Jerusalem – much to the chagrin of the Palestinians. 224

Presented on 15 March 1972, on the eve of West Bank municipal elections, the plan projected two autonomous provinces: the East Bank and the West Bank. ―Each province would have a separate, locally chosen governor, government and parliament to deal with all matters other than foreign affairs, defense and the unity of the Kingdom. These domains would be handled by a central government and parliament, based on the equal representation of each province. The Kingdom would have one united army, and its capital would be Amman‖ (Bailey 1978: 161). 225

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In 1988, following another failed attempt to strike a deal with Yasser Arafat on a federative structure and facing a stalemate at the diplomatic front, the outbreak of the Intifada made Hussein severe the remaining legal and administrative ties that bound the East Bank to the OTs. The Arab states had already denied him the exclusive representation of the Palestinians in 1974 when they recognized the PLO as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Now, he also cut the physical connections with Palestinian lands. With Hussein leaving the West Bank to the PLO, it was here and in the Gaza Strip that Palestinians were to achieve self-determination – a controversial idea that had been around for some time but was only seriously envisaged since the early 1970s. It is ironic that these developments had their origins in the challenge posed by revolutionary Arab nationalism to Hussein‘s ambitions as Arab leader.

Revolutionary Arab Nationalism In the late 1950s, a different variant of Arab nationalism entered the scene. It was national revolutionary in content and, for almost two decades, stood for the dream of Arab revival – for unity, social justice and independence. Its uncontested champion was Egypt‘s Gamal Abdel Nasser. A former Egyptian army officer of modest background who had fought in the First Arab-Israeli War, Nasser took part in the coup against King Farouk in 1952 before taking over the reins of power as President of the Republic. Having consolidated his role as the undisputed leader of Egypt, he subsequently turned to the Arab domain in order to become leader of the Arab World. In 1956, the ongoing struggle over British control over the Suez Canal had made Nasser nationalize the strategic waterway connecting the Mediterranean Sea to the Indian Ocean. This had provoked a diplomatic crisis. Britain and France then conspired with Israel to escalate the simmering border conflict in order to create a pretext for a military intervention. Nasser, however, managed to fend off the onslaught (with diplomatic assistance from the US and the USSR who called the French and British to reason). His successful stand against the former colonial powers boosted his prestige and made him emerge as an outstanding Arab leader. In the aftermath of the Suez War Nasser began promoting his idea of Arab nationalism. The notion of Arab nationalism had appeared in his speeches before 1956; now it became the centerpiece of his policy (see Shemesh 2008). Nasser addressed a wider Arab audience preaching ―a militant and active Arab nationalism, using all means, including force, to achieve its goals‖ (Shemesh 2008: 25). The goals of his Arab nationalism or, in short, Nasserism were the political, social, and economic liberation of the Arab world which required the elimination of the influence of Western imperialism and of so-called reactionary Arab regimes. Arab nationalism, for Nasser, meant advancing on the path toward Arab unity under his leadership.

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The touchstone of Nasserism was the liberation of Palestine. The fate of Palestine, so the idea, had taught Arabs a lesson. The success of Zionism was a direct result of the corruptness of Arab regimes and the fragmentation of the Arab nation an imperialist plot. The Arab nation had been betrayed, and Nasser set out to make good the ―injury to the pride and integrity of the entire Arab world‖ (Ajami 1978: 367). Under Nasser‘s lead, Palestine became the cause sacrée of Arab nationalism. One became incumbent on the other. As an article in al-Ahram, Egypt‘s flagship paper, explained: ―The way to unite is the Filastin way, and the way to Filastin is the way of unity … Therefore, the undertaking to save Filastin has to be combined with the struggle for unity, or to be more exact, is another side of it. The first goal of the undertaking is to attain the unity needed for the liberation of Palestine land …‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: fn. 32). In fact, the struggle for unity effectively meant taking on Israel. As Nasser repeatedly stated on Radio Cairo: ―From our point of view Israel is a basic problem, it is a question of life or death … It is a cancer in the body of the Arab people‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 4).226 Gamal Abdel Nasser‘s commitment to the liberation of Palestine had several dimensions. Above all, it demanded to dedicate Egypt‘s and the Arab world‘s resources to the goal of liberation, especially in the military domain. But it also meant support for Palestinians in the name of the principle of self-determination, and thus the establishment of Palestinian institutions in Palestinian lands. Starting 1959, Egypt‘s policy was to ―prove the existence of an independent Palestinian political element with nationalist aspirations that symbolized the existence of a Palestinian problem and … [to] substantiate the claim that the problem was basically between Zionism (or the Zionist Movement) and the Palestinian people‖ (Shemesh 2008: 11). Palestinians had to become a party in the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to justify the continued Arab struggle against Israel. Their identity had to be revived. Subsequently the Palestine problem became the master frame for Nasser‘s policy decisions. As he stated: ―All that we are doing is a step in the campaign for Filastin‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 10) Nasser‘s Arab nationalism galvanized the masses and he was venerated as a ―pan-Arab savior‖ (Ajami 1978: 368). His feats and the charisma of his person let Arabs marvel and made him the uncontested leader of the Arab world. ―He captured the Arab world politically by instilling the notion of the Arab nationalism (al-qawmiya al-„Arabiya), which became the main pillar of Arab politics…‖ (Shemesh 2008: 1). The Arab nation now constituted ―the people‘s focus of loyalty to such an extent that other identities were not only marginalized, but indeed were turned into negative, even derogatory notions‖ (Dawisha 2003: 15). This was particularly true for the Palestinian refugees. Nasser‘s commitment to the Palestinian cause raised expectations among

Note that Nasser‘s commitment to the Palestinian cause has also a personal dimension. As a young soldier he had experience the Arab defeat in 1948 first hand (see Heikal 1996). 226

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Palestinians that he would be the one to liberate their lands. In fact, since the ―road to Palestine‖ was inevitably ―to pass through Arab capital cities,‖ liberation could only be achieved by an Arab leader like Nasser (Frangi 1983: 94). In droves they converted to his Arab nationalist creed. The years from 1957 to 1961 were heydays of Arab nationalism. Having successfully repealed the onslaught of 1956, Nasser established the UAR and emerged as a figurehead of the nonaligned movement. Arab nationalist spirits were high. But it was not before long that his ambitions reached their limit. Iraq‘s rejection to join the UAR, Syria‘s secession from it in the fall of 1961, the wasteful and inconclusive military operation in Yemen, and the failure of his second attempt to unify Arab states in 1963 after the dismal failure of the EgyptoSyrian union – all so many indications of the elusive nature of the Arab nation. But Nasser did not budge. Putting blame for his failures on the social structure of Arab societies he began to infuse his Arab nationalism with Soviet-style socialism. So-called ―reactionary forces‖ had to be purged. A confrontation ensued pitting ―revolutionary regimes‖ under his leadership against ―reactionary regimes‖, first among them the Jordanian monarchy – a line of conflict that Malcolm Kerr (1971) saw as one dimension in what he coined the Arab Cold War. The revolutionary nature of Nasser‘s Arab nationalism was also to be its undoing. The attempt to revive the dream of Arab nationalism – already a lost cause after Faisal was evicted from Damascus in 1920 – was doomed to failure since by now a system of sovereign Arab states had been established. Indeed, the common labeling of Nasserism as a pan-Arab movement highlights the fact that the project of unifying the Arabs had to face the reality of diverging interests among them. Egyptian meddling into the domestic politics of its neighbors was a constant irritant. In the world of realpolitik it was perceived as a thinly veiled attempt to regional hegemony and thus met with the opprobrium of Arab statesmen. While Nasser seems to have come to terms with the idea of organic Arab unity by 1963 already (Dawisha 2003: 1-2), it was the war of 1967 that marks the turning point in the fate of his revolutionary Arab nationalism. In June 1967 Egypt and its allies were dealt a crushing defeat by Israel. In no more than six days the Israeli army secured the Golan Heights from Syria, drove Jordan out of the West Bank, and occupied East Jerusalem. Egypt was pushed out of the Gaza Strip and had to retreat down to the Suez Canal. The territory now controlled by Israel by far exceeded the boundaries of Mandate Palestine, notably because of its conquest of the Sinai Peninsula. Nasser‘s star was falling and with it the dream of Arab unity waned. ―What the Six Day War did was to irretrievably rob Arab nationalism of the crucial element of unification‖ (Dawisha 2003: 253). The post-war Arab Summit of August 1967 held in Khartoum endorsed sovereignty as the principle

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guiding regional politics in the future.227 Whereas Arab populations preserved a sense of sharing a cultural space that was distinctively Arab, politically the status quo of a nation divided into several states prevailed. As Dawisha concludes, ―It was Arab statism not Arab nationalism that defined the post-1967 era, wataniya not qawmiya that determined political relations among the Arab states (2003: 254). This had important consequences for the Palestinians. Nasser‘s death in 1970 inaugurated a process of continuous Egyptian disengagement from the Arab political arena in general and the Palestinian question in particular. Under his successor, Anwar Sadat, Egypt‘s foreign policy was egyptianized although the official rhetoric retained a defiant Arab nationalist tone (el-Ayouty 1973). The Camp David Accords of 1978 included the so-called Framework for Peace in the Middle East which projected autonomy for Gaza and the West Bank. Yet, all that came out of Camp David was a peace treaty between Egypt and Israel signed the year after. All references to Palestine were dropped.228 It was an admission of failure. It made Egypt, the former powerhouse of Arab nationalism, a pariah in the Arab world. 229 These developments prompted Fouad Ajami to declare in the pages of Foreign Affairs: ―An idea that has dominated the political consciousness of modern Arabs is nearing its end, if it is not already a thing of the past. It is the myth of pan-Arabism…‖ (1978: 355). For Palestinians and, in particular, for the refugees among them, the turn of events was dramatic. The hope nurtured for more than a decade that under Nasser‘s leadership the Arab states would finally move to liberate Palestine was shattered. Nonetheless, many Palestinians desperately held on to the Arab nationalist lore since only by a joint Arab effort they stood a chance to regain their homes. Against all odds Palestinians now took it upon themselves to defend the cause of Arab nationalism which in essence was the struggle for Palestine. Indeed, it was Nasser who had encouraged Palestinians to mobilize as Palestinians for the Arab cause when he did not object to the creation of the PLO as the means to revive Palestinian identity – a project encapsulated in the Arab notion of a Palestinian kiyan. This gave birth to what I call Palestinianism: the idea of Palestinians as vanguard of the Arab nation. With Arab nationalism in all but name on the scrap heap of history, Palestinianism emerged from under the ―all-encompassing shadow of Arab nationalism‖ (Dawisha The oil-rich and pro-Western monarchies in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Libya now helped Egypt to shoulder the costs of the disastrous war. 227

At the treaty signature in Washington, DC on 26 March 1979 Sadat allegedly deleted the section of his speech referring to the Palestinians (Jones 1993: 81). 228

Libya‘s Gaddafi who imagined himself as Nasser‘s heir and tinkered with unification plans himself was outraged at Sadat‘s policy. This caused frictions between both countries and amid accusations that Gaddafi was conspiring to overthrow Sadat military clashes erupted in the summer of 1977. However, after the Israel-Egypt Peace Agreement had set off a show of indignation and anger on all sides, Arab regimes were keen to mend ties with Egypt. 229

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2003: 256). Rather than unifying the Arab nation, it would ultimately lead Arabs to part ways with the Palestinians and their cause.

From Arab to Palestinian Nationalism For the great majority of stateless Palestinians, Arab nationalism was a godsend since it provided them with a political identity. But the disaster of 1967 revealed a vexing trend in Arab politics: For all their bellicose rhetoric, Arab states remained circumspect in their actions. What transpired was that Palestinians could not wait for the Arab nation to come to their help but had to lead a concerted Arab effort to liberate Palestine. It was a position the militants of Fatah had begun to promote in the 1950s. What they proposed was an ideology elevating Palestinians to the role of an Arab vanguard ―with Palestinian refugees taking matters into their own hands‖ (Baumgarten 2005: 32). Theirs was a Palestinian Arab nationalism – Arab in form but Palestinian in content. This Palestinianism would subsequently emancipate itself from the Arab mold. In a famous quote, often presented as an example of Zionist denial, Golda Meir, then-Premier of Israel, asserts that there had been ―no such thing as Palestinians‖ in 1948 when Israel was created. Her assessment was not totally off the mark. Indeed, a collective consciousness constituting, in the words of Meir, a ―Palestinian people in Palestine considering itself as a Palestinian people‖ had been lacking (Washington Post 1969; but Khalidi 1997). Still in the 1970s for many Palestinians the idea of a Palestinian people remained an alien concept. Yet, in the late 1960s, around the time Meir gave her interview, the foundations were thrown for the emergence of Arabs from Palestine as Palestinians. The PLO‘s National Covenant of 1964 had already introduced a shift in perspective (PLO 1964). Those represented by the PLO were called the ―Palestinian Arab people‖ with the attribute ―Palestinian‖ used in its geographical sense. While the Covenant stressed the Arab-ness of Palestinians, defining them as those ―Arab citizens who were living normally in Palestine up to 1947, whether they remained or were expelled‖ (article 6), it pointed out the need to preserve the ―Palestinian personality‖ of that part of the Arab nation (article 11). In fact, article 6 established ethnic criteria for belonging as it stipulated: ―Every child who was born to a Palestinian Arab father after this date, whether in Palestine or outside, is a Palestinian.‖ Thereby, it introduced a crucial distinction between Arabs in general and Palestinians as a distinct subgroup. Four years later, in 1968, with the fedayeen now in charge of running the PLO, the distinction became even more marked (PLO 1968).230 Although the revised Covenant maintained the claim that the Palestinians were King Hussein influenced the decision-making process and the drafting of the 1964 Covenant. Hence the emphasis on the Arab struggle and the limitation introduced with regard to sovereignty (Shemesh 2008: 74). Indeed, the Covenant did not address the question of the PLO‘s representativeness at all. 230

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―an integral part of the Arab nation,‖ it insisted that there was a ―Palestinian community‖ whose distinct identity ―is a genuine, essential, and inherent characteristic‖ (article 4 & 7). While Palestinians were said to ―believe in Arab unity,‖ it stated that they now had to focus on safeguarding their ―Palestinian identity and develop their consciousness of that identity‖ (article 12). The need for unity ―among the different groupings of the Palestinian people‖ was now considered as pressing and necessary for the struggle as unity ―between the Palestinian people and the Arab masses‖ while cooperation with Arab regimes was to be conducted at eye level (article 10 & 27). Palestinians had to play a distinct role in the Arab struggle to liberate Palestine: ―The Palestinian Arab people assert the genuineness and independence of their national revolution and reject all forms of intervention, trusteeship, and subordination‖ (article 28). The Arabs from Palestine of the 1964 Covenant turned out to be Arab Palestinians (and in passing it acknowledged that there were Jewish Palestinians as well). In fact, the Arab title of the National Covenant had changed. ―National‖ now referred to watan, the homeland, and not to qawm, which referred to the Arab nation. The al-Mithaq al-Qawmi al-Filastini of 1964 became the al-Mithaq al-Watani al-Filastini. This reflected a shift in Palestinian self-perception which had begun to manifest itself in the wake of the June War. At least until 1967, the majority of Palestinians adhered to Arab nationalism. The dominant political identity was Arab. The Arab nation continued to be regarded as ―the primary custodian of Palestinian aspirations‖ and almost all ―educated and politically aware Palestinians tended to be ardent supporters of Arab nationalism‖ (Dawisha 2003: 256-7). After all, the injustice suffered by the Palestinian people had violated the ―the principles of the unity and integrity of Arab soil‖ (Khalidi 1978: 696). This line of argument made a lot of sense since, by definition, Palestinians were Arabs – a single people with a shared history, culture and, most important, one language. Moreover, Nasser had made the redemption of Palestine the Arab nation‘s foremost goal. But the more the Arab states revealed themselves impotent to achieve unity and deliver them from their plight, the more Palestinians became conscious of their difference as an Arab people among others. The roots of this development are found in Jordan where anger against Jordanian discrimination and prejudice among some elements of its Palestinian population had been growing since the 1950s. The West Bank Palestinians, in particular, ―went through an accelerated process of Palestinian national awakening‖ (Shemesh 2008: xi). The unrest of 1963 had been a first sign of anti-Hashemite ferment. But it had been exclusively Nasserist with demands to join the new Arab federation (Shemesh 2008: 108). This changed in the second half of the 1960s as Palestinian Arab nationalism gained a distinctively Palestinian look. In the wake of the creation of the PLO and the emergence of Fatah‘s fedayeen, this process culminated in November 1966 when riots erupted following an Israeli raid on the West Bank village of Samu. It was to mark the starting point of the rise of Palestinianism in which Fatah‘s armed struggle worked as a catalyst. 172

This development could not be without consequences for the political goals in case liberation was successful. For Arab nationalists, the only authentic political expression of the Arab nation was a single Arab state. For Palestine it would have meant becoming a province of such an entity. This had already been a controversial issue when Faisal was in Damascus and the subsequent developments made its realization all but impossible. In the mid-1960s, when all of Nasser‘s attempts to unification had failed, and the PLO was created, the question of sovereignty over a liberated Palestine gained renewed attention. The 1964 Covenant left no doubt that the struggle for Palestine was the struggle of the Arab nation but it already insisted on the autonomy of the Palestinian people in deciding their own destiny once liberation was completed (article 4 & 10). This, indeed, was Nasser‘s position. The Palestinians had a right to self-determination – whether or not this effectively meant becoming a province in a unitary Arab state was a different question. As to the territorial scope of the PLO‘s demands, article 3 of the Covenant pointed out that the Palestinians were in possession of ―the legal right to their homeland‖ which, as article 2 stated, was ―Palestine, with the boundaries it had during the British Mandate.‖ The particularism this clause carried was hard to swallow for committed Arab nationalists, and only on Nasser‘s insistence, the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM) came around to accepting the PLO. Moreover, in order to allay apprehensions in Arab capitals, especially in Amman, a somewhat odd clause was included in the Covenant. As article 24 states: ―This Organization does not exercise any territorial sovereignty over the West Bank in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, on the Gaza Strip or in the Himmah Area.‖231 This could be read as an endorsement of the Arab nationalist position that Arab lands were Arab whether they were held by Jordan, Egypt, or Syria and that further fragmentation would weaken the Arab cause and thus was to be rejected. At the same time however, it could be read as implying, ex negativo, that the PLO claimed sovereignty over the rest of Palestine – by now the territory of Israel. This was a rather fanciful idea given the organization‘s feebleness, but the signal was strong nonetheless. Whatever the rationale behind the inclusion of article 24 and its wording, following the disaster of the June War the PLO grew bolder in its assertion of Palestinian autonomy. Already before the war, the PLO‘s first chairman Ahmad Shukeiri had begun to challenge King Hussein‘s sovereignty. He wanted ―personal autonomy‖ for the Palestinians on the West Bank. They should be permitted ―to express freely their national activities, like the other Arab peoples, in the stages of their struggle‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 79). The PLO had to be given responsibility for the Palestinians in Jordan and be granted executive authority. After the war, at the Khartoum summit he openly clashed with Hussein in demanding that it vote that ―No Arab state will accept a separate solution to the Palestinian problem‖ and ―The Palestinian It is almost certain that it was directed against a tacit endorsement of UNGA Resolution 181 but more generally negated Palestinian national aspirations. 231

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people have the basic right to a homeland and the right to self-determination‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 245). Addressing the gathered Arab dignitaries Hussein retorted: ―We do not wish to [differentiate] between Arab land and Palestinian land. [People] in Jordan do not feel that there is a difference between the leadership and the people. … I ask you to define my responsibility. Is this an Arab or Palestinian problem?‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 245, my emphasis). The rift was now fully revealed, for all to see. In 1968, the Covenant was revised by the fedayeen, now in charge. In a conspicuous move article 24 was deleted. 232 Although the demand for a sovereign Palestinian state remained absent from the Covenant, the former article 25, now article 26, made clear that things had changed. It read: ―The Palestine Liberation Organization, representative of the Palestinian revolutionary forces, is responsible for the Palestinian Arab people‘s movement in its struggle – to retrieve its homeland, liberate and return to it and exercise the right to self-determination in it – in all military, political, and financial fields and also for whatever may be required by the Palestine case on the inter-Arab and international levels.‖ Palestinians stood for themselves and claimed all of Palestine. It was only at the sixth PNC in 1969, however, that the question of the nature of a Palestinian state was officially debated. And for the first time an official document introduced the idea of a ―free democratic society in Palestine, encompassing all Palestinians, including Muslims, Christians, and Jews…and rescuing Palestine from the hegemony of International Zionism‖ (quoted in Muslih 1990: 14). But it took the threat of an Arab-Israeli peace and the civil war in Jordan to make the PLO adopt the idea of separate Palestinian statehood. International diplomacy after the 1967 War put the PLO on the defensive. The fedayeen feared a deal between Israel and its foremost Arab foes, namely Jordan and Egypt, brokered by the Great Powers. Indeed, a framework for the resolution of the conflict along the lines of UNSC Resolution 242, the so-called Rogers Plan, named after US Secretary of State William P. Rogers, was eventually endorsed by Nasser, leading the fedayeen to denounce him as ―traitor‖ (Heikal 1996: 157).233 The simmering conflict with King Hussein then

And Shukeiri made clear that there was a distinction to be made between Palestinian and Arab lands. He declared: ―A withdrawal is needed from two types of land: Arab land, such as Sinai, that belongs to the UAR, and the Golan Heights, that belongs to Syria; and Palestinian land – al-Hama, the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. This is Palestinian land and its fate is in the hands of the Palestinian people‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 245). 232

In December 1969, Rogers had called for an implementation of Resolution 242 demanding a ―withdrawal from occupied territories‖ to the 1949 Armistice Line in view of the establishment of ―secure and recognized boundaries‖ and negotiations about the future of Jerusalem (see Heikal 1996: 157). UNSC Resolution 242 of November 1967 introduced the principle of ―land for peace‖ as basis for a comprehensive Arab-Israeli peace. Given that the Palestinians, or for that matter the PLO, were no sovereign party to the conflict, a solution was located at the inter-state level. Palestinians, in the beginning, appeared as a refugee problem only. 233

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escalated in the fall of 1970. The PLO was defeated and forced to leave Jordan toward Lebanon. Nasser and the Arab world at large had stood by idle watching their rout.234 In reaction to these developments the eighth PNC in the spring of 1971 made a desperate move. It redefined its goal as a secular and democratic state in Palestine – an idea that took up a thread left over by Haj Amin‘s declaration of independence (see above). The PLO now openly challenged not only Israel‘s sovereignty but also Jordan‘s right on the West Bank (Egypt never claimed sovereignty over the Gaza Strip). Yet, in this form, the goal of Palestinian statehood was somewhat odd given that Israel‘s sovereignty was de facto internationally recognized and that the lands beyond the OTs, by now, were home to a Jewish majority. In fact, the content of the projected state remained vague, and it appears that its true value was strategic in nature. It changed the overall perspective on the conflict: away from an orthodox Arab nationalist position and toward a demand for the recognition of a separate Palestinian role in the conflict and a Palestinian right to selfdetermination.235 Nonetheless, Arab nationalism continued to dominate the official discourse not least because it was clear to all that Palestinians, on their own, would never be able to match Israel‘s might. With total liberation of Palestine out of reach, pragmatism began to settle in afterwards. The 1967 war had changed the parameters of the struggle against Israel. Israel now held all the remaining Palestinian territories and the civil war in Jordan made the fedayeen lose contact with the West Bank – till then considered the launching pad for the re-conquest of Palestine. Under these circumstances the Palestinian territories recently occupied by Israel and with an Arab majority, received increasing attention by the PLO leadership. Although the partition of Palestine was anathema to the PLO, the twelfth PNC voted in 1974 to establish a ―people‘s national, independent, and fighting authority on every part of Palestinian land to be liberated‖ (quoted in Muslih 1990: 18). As part of a ten-point political program, it signaled a first, tentative move away from the

In order to be fair to the historical record, it has to be mentioned that Nasser intervened diplomatically and brokered a ceasefire between the PLO and Hussein in September 1970 – it was his last political action and only slowed down the Palestinian rout. Damascus and Baghdad, although rhetorically committed to the Palestinian cause, failed to lend effective support to the fedayeen. 234

Commenting the decision at that time, Nakhleh wrote: ―it must be pointed out that the ‗secular, democratic‘ society which Fath hopes to achieve in Palestine following the destruction of the present structure of Israel is, at the very best, a vague slogan which must be clearly developed. Will such a society be an Arab structure based on Arab nationalism and ruled by an Arab majority, or will it be a truly humanist society open to Arabs, Israelis, Muslims, Christians and Jews alike? Unfortunately, the Palestine resistance movement has failed as yet to offer any convincing, detailed description of such a future society‖ (1971: 188). In fact, at the sixth PNC in 1969, the ―majority of the Congress opted for an Arab state in which the Jewish population would only have religious and cultural rights‖ (Chaliand 1972: 95). But, as Chaliand points out, ―It would even seem that for many of the Congress delegates the prospect of a democratic state was principally an expedient slogan designed to win over world public opinion, rather than an actual strategic objective‖ (1972: 95). 235

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goal of total liberation. In the face of massive criticism, the dream of a final victory over Zionism was, however, reiterated, and the idea of a ―fighting authority‖ was sold as part of a staged approach.236 For Muslih, in spite of the ambiguity surrounding the PLO‘s policy, ―the twelfth PNC represents a remarkable break with the past … [and] set the stage for far-reaching changes in the years that lay ahead, initiating the policy shift towards coexistence with Israel‖ (1990: 18). Yet the journey to the eventual acceptance of a ministate in the OTs was to be a difficult one. What began in 1974 as a concession in the name of strategic consideration soon gained currency as the twostate solution, the idea of a sovereign Palestinian state in the OTs and the recognition of Israel. Yet, when Walid Khalidi, an outstanding Palestinian intellectual figure, published in 1978 an article in Foreign Affairs discussing this option, he felt the need to caution his readers, headlining it ―Thinking the Unthinkable.‖ If self-determination and statehood was to become the goal of the Palestinian struggle, it was only in the territories occupied in 1967 where this stood a chance to be realized. This, however, meant coming to terms with the dream of unity of the Arab nation and the Arab nationalist doctrine of the liberation of Palestine as an Arab struggle. It also meant that the PLO had to concede on the return of the refugees to territories held by Israel before 1967. Such prospects were breathtaking since Fatah (and thus the PLO after 1968) was in essence a movement of refugees seeking to redeem their homeland. It took another decade and the uprising known as Intifada, which set off in November 1987, to decisively refocus the Palestinian struggle on the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. The eventual declaration of Palestinian independence in 1988 was nothing short of a watershed. The idea of a Palestinian people finally met with a territory in which Palestinian self-determination and statehood could be achieved. It marks an endpoint in the emancipation of Palestinianism from Arab nationalism and its unlikely transformation into a fully-fledged Palestinian nationalism. Yet, this development had not been intended by the Palestinian leadership. The fedayeen had seen their armed struggle as the means to turn Palestinians into the vanguard of the Arab struggle for the liberation of Palestine. Short of liberation, however, the most import consequence of Fatah‘s struggle was its formative effect for Palestinian political identity. Their Palestinianism led Palestinians to cast off the ideological carcass of Arab nationalism and imagine themselves as a nation in its own right

Hence, point 4 stated that ―any liberation step taken is taken in the pursuit of the realization of the PLO strategy for the establishment of the Palestinian democratic state as stipulated in the previous resolutions of the PNC‖ (quoted in Muslih 1990: 18). 236

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II) FATAH Among the welter of Palestinian armed groups that emerged in the 1960s, Fatah stands out for its unwavering Palestinianism. Fatah activists, from the outset, stressed their Palestinian-ness, emphasized the singularity of Palestinians as an Arab people, and jealously sought to preserve Fatah‘s autonomy. This did not prevent them from maintaining the Arab nationalist discourse. Under their leadership, they argued, Palestinians were to become the vanguard of the Arab nation. Since Arab unity was incumbent upon the liberation of Palestine, they requested Arab solidarity with their struggle. This put the oft-rehearsed argument on its head according to which Arab unity had priority over Palestinian action. Fatah‘s position was unequivocal: ―Only when the entire Palestinian people were organized and the armed struggle against Zionist Israel began would the liberation of Palestine be possible‖ (Frangi 1983: 96). The idea of a popular armed struggle, a people‘s war distinct from conventional warfare between states and their standing armies, was an intellectual import. In the aftermath of the Second World War, the merger of revolutionary leftist ideology with the principle of national self-determination had given rise to so-called national liberation movements in the Third World. Their example Fatah now sought to emulate. The dismal showing of Arab armies in their confrontation with Israel had prompted them to look for other ways to wage the battle against Zionism. In its adaption by Fatah, however, popular armed struggle would largely remain a myth. The mass mobilization they hoped for never materialized. But the guerrilla strategy it recommended proved crucial with regard to the transformation of Fatah‘s Palestinianism into a veritable Palestinian nationalism. The origin of Fatah and its ascent to Palestinian leadership in the 1960s has to be placed into the context of the activities of the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), on the one hand, and the creation of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), on the other. The developments that facilitated Fatah‘s rise to power were of the order of three. First, the dismemberment of the UAR in 1961 signaled a crisis of Arab nationalism which culminated in the fateful 1967 War. It shattered the hope for Arab unity under Nasser‘s lead. Second, the victory of the Algerian Front de libération nationale (FLN) in 1962 was an inspiration to Palestinian activists since it indicated that ―Arab unity might not be a prerequisite for liberation and that a nation could struggle successfully against foreign settlers by relying mainly on its own resources‖ (Hamid 1975: 93). Third, interArab struggles for leadership had led to the creation of the PLO in 1964. It would turn out to be the institutional framework through which an independent Palestinian position was to find its expression in Arab politics and beyond.

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1) FATAH, THE ANM AND THE PLO In the late 1950s a small group of Palestinian refugees in Kuwait founded Fatah, prominently among them Yasser Arafat (Abu Ammar) Salah Khalaf (Abu Iyad), and Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad).237 Fatah is the acronym of Harakat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyya (Palestinian Liberation Movement) spelled backwards (Abu Iyad 1978: 278). Fath, in Arabic, means opening but also conquering or victory (singular of Futuh, which also stands for the early Arab-Muslim conquests). The Fatah founders shared similar personal trajectories. Their families hailed from the coastal plains of Palestine and had been made refugees by the First Arab-Israeli War – except for Arafat whose father had moved to Cairo before. They were to represent a new political elite of lower-middle class origin that was to break with the traditional rule of notables. Al-Wazir had organized Palestinian students while attending secondary school in the Gaza Strip. The others were active in the Palestinian Student Union at Cairo University.238 Prefiguring Fatah‘s Palestinianist stance, the Union, according to Abu Iyad, was ―a sort of umbrella organization grouping Palestinian students of various political stripes – Muslim Brothers, Communists, Baathists, Arab Nationalists…‖ (1978: 19-20). In the late 1950s these young Palestinians all found themselves in the Gulf States and Saudi Arabia where they had jobs as teachers, engineers, or bureaucrats. There the political climate for Palestinians to organize was less restrictive than in the Arab states bordering Israel.239 From the start, Fatah rejected Arab tutelage and insisted on Palestinian autonomy in the Arab struggle against Zionism. Before long, Fatah transformed the image of the Palestinians from destitute refugees into brave fighters who, against all odds, took on mighty Israel. In the years to come, their fedayeen movement would succeed in putting Palestinians on the political map of the Middle East. With ―their fiery militant rhetoric, their air of mystery, and their vague ideology‖ they managed to embrace ―virtually all political tendencies‖ among Palestinians (Khalidi 2006: 141). This evolution was far from foreordained. In the 1950s, it was another group of young Arabs, the ANM, which attracted educated young Palestinian refugees of middle-class background. Formed in 1951/52, the core group of the ANM were students of the American University of Beirut (AUB), predominantly of Palestinian origin but not exclusively so, who rallied like-minded groups in Lebanon as well as in Syria and Jordan. Still under the impression of the Nakba, these young Western-educated intellectuals Frangi (1983) claims that the foundation had taken place in Gaza in 1955 whereas Shemesh remarks that internal publications of Fatah reveal that ―it was during Israel‘s occupation of the Gaza Strip (from October 1956 to March 1957) that the idea of a ‗Palestinian armed movement‘ emerged‖ (2008: 92). 237

238

From 1952 to 1956 Arafat was president of the Union

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Not least because the so-called front states were anxious to keep control over the Palestinian refugee community.

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aspired to lead Arab nationalism toward the liberation of Palestine (Baumgarten 1991: 103). The ANM‘s basic premise held that ―Palestine could not be liberated unless the Arab countries were fully freed from colonial control and thus able to concentrate their resources against Israel‖ (Sayigh 1991: 609). What was needed was regime change throughout the Arab world. Their program was encapsulated in the slogan ―unity, liberation and vengeance.‖ In the conflict between Nasser and the Arab Socialist Baath Party over revolutionary leadership in the Arab world, the ANM threw its lot with the former. It began to define its policy in accordance with Egyptian foreign policy (Sayigh 1991: 610). 240 Notably, it adopted Nasser‘s argument opposing guerrilla warfare on the ground that it only risked provoking Israel when the Arab world was not yet ready for such a confrontation. Rather than taking on Israel militarily, as Fatah did since 1965, the ANM thus directed its energy against the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan, perceived to be the major obstacle for Arab unity. In the mid-1960s, as Arab nationalism lost pace, the question of Palestine took greater importance in the ANM‘s thinking. Throughout the Arab world Palestinian members of the ANM established separate sections but stopped short of turning themselves into ―a full-fledged Palestinian organization‖ (Sayigh 1991: 628). It was the Arab defeat in the June War that eventually prompted armed ANM fronts and other Palestinian groups to join forces.241 In December 1967 the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) was born with George Habash at its helm. Shortly after, a faction led by Nayef Hawatmeh split away to form the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) – others would follow.242 However, from now on Habash‘s PFLP, on the one hand, and Arafat‘s Fatah, on the other, were to embody the two major strands within the Palestinian fedayeen movement. Their rivalry would be fierce and cost the Palestinians dearly. The PFLP stood for a revolutionary Arab nationalism strongly influenced by leftist ideas. In the tradition of the ANM, it advocated active intervention in Arab politics in order to realize Arab unity and thus pave the way for the liberation of Palestine. But in contrast to the ANM, its political program presented the Arab revolution as a

The Baath, founded in 1947, had a strong following in Syria and Iraq. Its socialist program, which the ANM rejected, had contributed to raise its standing (Sayigh 1991: 610). 240

These ANM fronts sported fancy names like ―Heroes of the Return‖ and the ―Vengeance Youth Organization.‖ They were joined by the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF), and a group of pro-Nasser ex-Jordanian officers (Sayigh 1992: 257). 241

In fact, the first to leave was Ahmed Jibril, who founded the PFLP-GC (General Command) in mid-1968. The DFLP was established in February 1969 under the acronym PDFLP (later DPFLP) (according to Cobban [1984: 48] this move was instigated by Fatah). For an overview of the situation in the early 1970s and the different factions, see CIA (1970). 242

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class struggle pitting Arab peasants and workers against Israel and the Arab bourgeoisie. As the PFLP‘s political platform declared: The struggle against Israel is first of all a class struggle. … The national struggle is a struggle for land and those who struggle for it are the peasants who were driven away from their land. The bourgeoisie is always ready to lead such a movement, hoping to gain control of the internal market. If the bourgeoisie succeeds in bringing the national movement under its control, which strengthens its position, it can lead the movement under the guise of a peaceful solution into compromises with imperialism and Zionism. Therefore, the fact that the liberation struggle is mainly a class struggle emphasises the necessity for the workers and peasants to play a leading role in the national liberation movement (PFLP [1969] 1985). The fate of Palestine thus was bound up with the success or failure of the revolutionary movement in the Arab world. Without a revolutionary ideology the Arab nation was doomed because it would be sold out by the Arab bourgeoisie in cahoots with imperialist interests and thus Zionism. The PFLP not only sought ―to liberate Palestine and the Palestinian man from Zionist oppression‖ but ―to liberate Arab society from counterrevolutionary and reactionary forces‖ (Nakhleh 1971: 188). Its revolutionary zeal considerably increased the number of foes. Besides Israel, the PFLP identified the World Zionist Movement, international imperialism, and the ―Arab reaction‖ as its enemies. The PFLP‘s ideological dogmatism distinguished it from Fatah‘s pragmatism. The crucial difference between both, however, was the implications this had in terms of strategy. The PFLP argued that before taking on the enemy, a firm popular base had to be established. In fact, this is what a careful reading of Mao Zedong‘s writings on guerrilla warfare suggested. The political agitation and organization of the masses was not only distinct from military action, it had to precede it. The liberation of Palestine could only be achieved upon the fulfillment of two conditions: ―the masses must be politically educated; and the Arab society as a whole must be liberated‖ (Nakhleh 1971: 195). Launching suicidal guerrilla attacks on Israel would not help attaining these goals. Fatah‘s fedayeen thought differently. Although they had been condemned before the 1967 War by the Arab nationalist mainstream for provoking a premature escalation, their gung-ho style earned them wide popularity among the Arab populations. The defeat of 1967 vindicated their approach and enhanced Fatah‘s earlier public relations success. With a conventional war against Israel out of question, for the time being, guerrilla warfare became fashionable. The PFLP and other leftist groups, somewhat in contradiction to their professed ideology, began to emulate Fatah‘s strategy of armed struggle.243 The fedayeen movement grew quickly.

The case can be made that whatever support the PFLP received in the 1970s was not due to agitprop but to ―daring, and news-making, operations (aircraft hijacking, etc.)‖ (Nakhleh 1971: 195). 243

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Yet, the PFLP would never seriously challenge the pre-eminence of Fatah and Arafat in particular. It would remain second. That it was Fatah and not the ANM and its offspring that prevailed in the competition for Palestinian leadership has been termed the foremost ―paradox of contemporary Palestinian history‖ (Sayigh 1991: 608). In the early 1960s, ANM reflected the prevailing Arab nationalist mood, enjoyed Nasser‘s patronage, and was ―far superior to Fatah in terms of numbers, organizational experience, political contacts, and military preparedness‖ (Sayigh 1991: 608). There is no doubt that Nasser‘s defeat hurt them badly, but what ultimately made Fatah prevail was its daring militancy. Above all, it was the famed Battle of Karameh in early 1968 – to which I will return in a while – that relegated the PFLP to a secondary role in Palestinian politics. This and other episodes of escalating violence helped to promote Fatah‘s Palestinianism to the detriment of the PFLP‘s more orthodox Arab nationalism. In the end, it was the presence of the PLO that would allow Fatah to consolidate its leadership. After the June War, the PLO came under Fatah‘s control while the PFLP and its offshoots stayed on the sidelines alternating between participation and boycott.244 As already mentioned, the PLO was established in 1964. Conceived as an umbrella organization for all Palestinian groups whose uncontrolled proliferation had become a source of concern, its creation is usually attributed to a decision of the first Arab Summit, held on Nasser‘s behest. This is only half of the truth. The Arab leaders gathered because Israel‘s plans to divert the headwaters of the Jordan River had raised tensions in the region and there were calls for war which Nasser sought to avert because he sensed that the advantage was still on Israel‘s side (Khouri 1966: 445).245 Palestine mattered only indirectly.246 At this point, anything beyond a mere rhetorical commitment to the cause of liberation was a matter of controversy. The fate of Palestine had already become a card to be played in inter-Arab rivalries. In 1959, Iraq‘s new strongman Abdel Karim Kassem, who had come to power after the coup against Fayal II, had used the question of Palestine to challenge Nasser. He declined to join the UAR, instead declaring himself The PFLP would remain for ever second to Fatah. Unable to reach an agreement with Fatah on the division of seats and positions in the PLO it boycotted the meeting of the fifth PNC during which Fatah took control of the organization. By its absence it eased Fatah‘s consolidation of power. 244

Arab leaders decided on two things: in order to thwart Israel‘s water diversion scheme they resolved to build adequate infrastructure in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan ―which would ultimately prevent the waters of the Hasbani, Banyas and Yarmuk Rivers from flowing into the Jordan River‖ and they ―agreed to create a unified military command which would draw up plans for coordinating the power and strategy of all Arab armies in order to protect the Arab countries and their projects from any Israeli attack‖ (Khouri 1966: 445-6). 245

Reference to Palestine was an important rhetorical figure. As Nasser is said to have argued in his invitation: ―the battle of the Jordan River is part of the battle of Palestine‖ (Hamid 1975: 93). 246

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in favor of a federated unification (itihad in Arabic) of Arab states that would preserve their sovereignty and independence (Shemesh 2008: 13-4). But there was more to it. Comparing the ongoing Algerian struggle against the French to the situation in Palestine, he called for the establishment of a Palestinian Republic in Gaza and the West Bank (Sayigh 1998: 98). As Kassem stated: ―A Palestinian republic must be set up on all of Filastin soil. … We believe that all Filastin is Arab [land] and must be returned to its owners‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 15). And he even dared to describe Palestine as ―usurped by three thieves: one hostile to Arab nationalism, Zionism, and the other two from within the Arab camp: Egypt and Jordan‖ (quoted in Frisch 2009: 244).247 On the eve of the First Arab Summit it was again Iraq which ―re-opened the debate by calling the League of Arab States … to form an elected Palestinian national assembly and a Palestinian government that would enjoy formal relations with the Arab states and set up a Palestinian liberation army‖ (Sayigh 1998: 99). With Syrian President Amin al-Hafez adopting a similar line and King Hussein adamantly opposed to such a Palestinian entity, the Palestinian question interfered with the attempt to arrive at a common position toward the more pressing issue of the Jordan waters. As the question of Palestine came up at the Summit, the Arab leaders only instructed Ahmad Shukeiri, then- representative of Palestine to the League of Arab States, ―to continue his consultations with the member states and Palestinian people with the aim of arriving at the setting up of sound foundations for organizing the Palestinian people and enabling it to play its role in liberating its homeland and determining its destiny‖ (quoted in Sayigh 1998: 99). Shukeiri, who had made a career as Syrian and Saudi diplomat and former Secretary-General of the Arab League, interpreted the order in the widest possible way. Closely watched by the Jordanian authorities, he convened an assembly of Palestinian delegates to Jerusalem where the PLO was established in May 1964. The 422 delegates then ―reconstituted themselves as the Palestine National Council (PNC), approved a range of legislative and executive powers, departments and agencies, and operational regulations and procedural norms that gave the PLO a distinctly state-like character, and selected Shuqayri as chairman of its executive committee‖ (Sayigh 1998: 99).248 Particular attention was In reaction to Kassem provocation, Nasser decided to establish elected Palestinian institutions in Gaza, Jordan and Lebanon. The Palestinian Arab National Union (PNU), the precursor to the PLO, was meant to represent the Palestinians in the region but soon ceased to function. In addition, Nasser passed a law in 1962 establishing a ―constitutional order‖ in Gaza which made it ―an integral part of Filastin land‖ (quotes in Frisch 2009: 244). It signaled acceptance of the idea that Palestinian self-determination had a territorial dimension. 247

With regard to the subsequent developments it is worthy to note that the majority of the delegates were Palestinian notables appointed to represent the different Palestinian constituencies the war had created. More than half of the delegates, precisely 258, where from Gaza and Jordan (including the West Bank) and the officials among the latter were certainly on the payroll of the palace (Hamid 1975: 95). 248

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paid to military organization and preparation since Palestinian mobilization was considered crucial for the goal of Israel‗s destruction. Indeed, Frisch assumes that the delegates, at this point, ―were less motivated by Palestinian state formation than by the prospect of liberating Palestine and merging it into a united Arab state‖ (2009: 245).249 The Second Summit in September of that year ―welcomed the establishment of the PLO as the basis of the Palestinian entity and as a pioneer in the collective Arab struggle for the liberation of Filastin‖ and stated that ―the PLO represents the will of the Palestinian people in its struggle for the liberation of its homeland, Filastin‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 70). Although the idea of a Palestinian entity (kiyan) was at odds with the doctrine of Arab nationalism, Nasser did not object and even supported Shukeiri‘s undertaking (Cobban 1984: 31). The PLO could help to channel Palestinian activism, control the fedayeen groups, and be used to put pressure on Hussein. In fact, Shukeiri depended on Nasser in order to free himself from Hussein‘s influence over the PLO. The fedayeen groups, first among them Fatah, viewed the creation of the PLO with skepticism. The first PNC had voted to establish a Palestine Liberation Army (PLA) to be put under the United Arab Command (UAC), a common military structure decided at the First Arab summit.250 For the fedayeen, the PLO‘s attempt to monopolize the Palestinian struggle meant accepting the tutelage if not outright control by Arab regimes in which they had lost faith. Sensing that the PLA was aimed above all at preserving the Arab-Israeli status quo, they hastily created the Political Bureau of United Action of the Revolutionary Palestinian Forces (PBUARPF) – an obscure congregation of fedayeen groups (Hamid 1975: 94-5).251 Unable to strike a deal with Shukeiri over their integration into the PLO structures, they continued to operate on their own (Cobban 1984: 30). Indeed, it was largely in reaction to the establishment of the PLO that Fatah (prematurely) launched its operations in January 1965. They feared that the PLO would undermine their attempt to recruit Palestinians to their organization and interfere with their goal of leading the Palestinians (Shemesh 2008: 77). The outcome of the June War justified the fedayeen‘s initial reluctance to join the PLO. The military incompetence of the Arab regimes increased the appeal of the fedayeen and their guerrilla strategy – although In October 1964 the PLO attended the Conference of Non-Aligned States in Cairo. The conference ―expressed support for ‗the complete reinstatement of the Arab people in Palestine in all their rights to their country as well as their inalienable right to self-determination‘‖ (quoted in Hamid 1975: 96, my emphasis). 249

On paper the PLA was impressive. It had 10 000-12 500 men and 20 000 auxiliaries based in Gaza, Iraq, and Syria, but its command structure was rife with internal rivalries and when the war came it failed to make a difference (Sayigh 1992: 262). 250

The PBUARPF consisted of an alphabet soup of Palestinian organizations: the Palestinian Liberation Front (PLF), the Revolutionary Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Bloc of Palestinian Commandos, the Arab Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Nationalist Front for Liberation and, last but not least, Fatah (Hamid 1975: 94-5). 251

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they had not fared much better their impact on Israel being next to nil. But with the Arab capitals under shock and the PLA having dismally failed to make a difference in the war, Shukeiri‘s days as chairman of the PLO were counted. His former patrons turned against him when he accused the Arab regimes at the Khartoum summit of selling out the Palestinian cause. ―No king or president,‖ he warned, ―has the authority to solve the Palestinian problem‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 245). Any decision regarding Palestine required the consent of the Palestinians, that is, of the PLO. He then angered the fedayeen when he pretended to control all Palestinian forces which could not be farther from truth. In late 1967, he was ousted and in spring 1968 the fedayeen took over the PLO. The debacle of June shifted the balance of power in Palestinian politics toward the fedayeen. In January 1968 eight fedayeen groups held a meeting in Cairo where the Permanent Bureau led by Fatah was established. 252 Two months later, at a meeting with the PLO and the PFLP – which had not joined the Permanent Bureau – attending, Fatah secured that the fedayeen groups would be given half of the seats in a new PNC ―thereby recognizing the new realities of the prestige and support‖ they had among Palestinians (Hamid 1975: 99). The Permanent Bureau then dominated the fourth PNC held in July 1968 and began to reshape the look of the PLO in accordance with its guerrilla philosophy. Freedom of movement of the fedayeen in the Arab host countries and the PLA‘s independence from Arab influence featured prominently among the resolutions. In February 1969, at the following PNC, Yasser Arafat was elected to the position of Chairman of the PLO‘s Executive Committee. Fatah consolidated its control over the PLO. Initially founded as a civilian–military institution, the PLO became ―a guerrilla movement that focused on liberation at the expense of political representation‖ (Frisch 2009: 246). Whereas the first PNC had been composed so as to represent the geographical distribution of the Palestinians, the new PNC mirrored the balance of power among Palestinian political forces. The PLO now represented almost exclusively the exiles and refugees and their wish to achieve their goal of return by means of an armed struggle. Those within, the Palestinians in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, and in Israel proper, were sidelined. The PLO, as we will see, would nonetheless play the role as catalyst in the emergence of a Palestinian nationalism.

2) FATAH’S IDEOLOGY & GOALS The grand lines of Fatah‘s program were hatched in 1958 and received confirmation at its first conference in 1962 (Baumgarten 1991: 143-5). Fatah presented itself as a national liberation movement opposing Zionism by means of an armed struggle characterized as mass-based and revolutionary. The key tenets of its ideology, The Permanent Bureau for the coordination of the guerrilla struggle had no operational significance. It was a symbolic gesture manifesting opposition to the PLO (Abu Iyad 1978: 64-5). 252

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first drafted by a by a special committee nominated by Fatah‘s Central Committee, can be summarized as follows: -

Revolutionary violence is the only available means of liberating the homeland.

-

This violence must be exerted by the masses.

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The object of this revolutionary violence is to liquidate the political, economic and military institutions of Zionism over the whole of the occupied territory of Palestine.

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This revolutionary action should be independent of all party or state control.

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The revolutionary struggle will of necessity continue over a long period.

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The revolution is Palestinian in origin, Arab in development (quoted in Chaliand 1972: 67-8).

The declaration contained the ideological tenets which were to determine Fatah‘s rhetoric in the years to come. The immediate objectives accruing from them, however, only crystallized in the course of action. With hindsight three of them stand out (see, e.g., Baumgarten 1991; Sayigh 1986). First, Fatah sought to promote the political identity of Palestinians as Palestinians. Only if mobilized could the Palestinian people successfully engage the armed struggle with Israel and play the role as vanguard of the Arab nation. Second and flowing from the first, fedayeen action ultimately aimed at re-escalating the Arab-Israeli conflict – in the meantime, holding the key to such an escalation would help Fatah to impose itself on Arab politics. In doing so, solidarity with the Palestinians‘ cause would be secured and Arab unity fostered. Third, and in parallel to the former two, Palestinian mobilization and action was meant to remind Arabs and the world that Palestinians existed and that their fate was still undecided. In order to fulfill their vanguard role and achieve liberation, Palestinians had to be placed on the political map – with the fedayeen representing their cause. In short, Fatah‘s program was about waging an autonomous armed struggle and promoting Palestinianism. They were prerequisite to the attainment of the final goal: the liberation of Palestine and the return of the refugees. Taken at face value, Fatah‘s program could claim ideological coherence. Yet, a closer look reveals that it entailed a number of problems when approached from a more practical perspective. First, there was the question of how Fatah‘s Palestinianism squared with the then-hegemonic Arab nationalism in whose name regional particularism (iqlamiyya in Arabic) was starkly rejected. Indeed, Fatah took care to justify its stance, but it remained a sore point. Second, the idea of popular armed struggle remained central to Fatah‘s ideology. It was the pivot around which Fatah‘s program revolved. But it never materialized, and guerrilla warfare was all but abandoned in the early 1970s. Last but not least, the focus on liberation as ultimate goal was sufficiently vague in order not to offend Arab nationalist sensibilities. But as the conflict wore on, the political program of

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the fedayeen required clarifications. This proved to be particularly torturous for Fatah since political pragmatism meant that its founders had to accept that total liberation and thus return was illusory. It took more than a decade following the 1967 War until the OTs were seriously considered as the place where Palestinians could realize self-determination – for the price of recognizing Israel, a position that would take another decade until it was finally declared official policy.

Fatah’s Palestinianism Fatah‘s Palestinianism grew from the experience of its early leadership. Although Arabs, they found themselves to be different and even despised by their hosts. As Abu Iyad remembered: ―When the Palestinians left their country in 1948, they thought they would be welcomed like brothers in the Arab states. A big surprise was in store for them. The lucky ones were treated like foreigners; more often it was as undesirables‖ (1978: 38). And Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), recounting in an interview how the Palestinian activists of the first hour had suffered at the hand of Arab intelligence agencies, concluded: ―We Palestinians have always been dealt with as aliens by other Arabs, treated as nothing but troublemakers and traitors‖ (quoted in Jenkins 1983: 192).253 They had made the bitter experience that their struggle came only second to the raison d‟État of Arab states. The feeling that they suffered as Palestinians and not so much as Arabs found an echo in their interpretation of the Nakba. Contrasting the Arab nationalist narrative which saw the Nakba as the result of the decline and weakness of the Arab nation caused by Western imperialism, they explained it as the result of a conflict between the Arab regimes, on the one hand, and the Palestinians, on the other. The Arab leaders, they argued, had actively prevented the Palestinians from defending their homes against the Zionist onslaught and obstructed the struggle for liberation (Baumgarten 1991: 136). The idea of an Arab nation showed serious fissures. The Palestinianism of the early Fatah, as a result, focused on the question of an independent Palestinian entity or kiyan (al-kiyan al-filastini). By recovering their kiyan, so the idea, their dispossessed people would regain self-respect, vigor, and pride and gather the strength necessary to liberate their homeland. Mobilizing

After the Suez War in 1956 guerrilla raids were suppressed by Egyptian security forces who feared a renewed escalation: ―The bitter experience of being hounded, jailed, and interrogated by the Egyptian mukhabarat (intelligence service), as happened to many of them [Palestinian activists] suspected of carrying out attacks on Israel, naturally tended to make these individuals cynical about the Egyptian regime‘s highflown rhetoric about its commitment to the Palestinian cause‖ (Khalidi 1997: 183). 253

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Palestinians as Palestinians, as Fatah intended to do, thus translated into the (re-)establishment of a Palestinian kiyan. As one could read in Fatah‘s mouthpiece Filastinua in 1961: Wenn wir unseren kiyan verlangen, verlangen wir in Wirklichkeit Freiheit ungehindert für die Zurückgewinnung unseres Vaterlandes zu arbeiten. Wir gaben niemandem eine Treuhänderschaft, und wir akzeptieren nicht, daß uns jemand seine Treuhänderschaft aufoktroyiert… Wir werden nichts Geringeres als unseren kiyan akzeptieren, damit er der Ort wird, von wo aus wir die Revolution anfangen, von wo aus wir in ein arabisches Palästina zurückkehren werden, ein Palästina, gesäubert von verbrecherischen Juden und vom Kolonialismus, der sie hervorgebracht hat (Filastinua of 13 January 1961, quoted in Baumgarten 1991: 141).254 The very notion of a Palestinian kiyan was ―relatively new in Arab-Palestinian politics and in the lexicon of the Arab-Israeli conflict‖ (Shemesh 2008: 6). The Arab noun kiyan is usually translated in English as ―entity‖ but, according to Baumgarten, it has different meanings ranging from identity, in terms of collective existence, to nation, or even statehood (1991: 152). In the beginning, however, the demand for a kiyan was a defensively motivated. No mention was made of ―self-determination‖ or a Palestinian state. In the early 1960s, it was urgent to show that Palestinians were not mere Arab refugees but a people demanding a political representation.255 Although the debate about a Palestinian kiyan featured prominently in early Fatah‘s internal debates, this did not imply a break with Arab nationalist doctrine. It rather modified it in accordance with the preeminent role Palestine had gained under Nasser‘s influence. Now Palestinians became the custodians of the Arab cause. Recalls Abu Iyad: We were convinced … that the Palestinians could expect nothing from the Arab regimes, for the most part corrupt or tied to imperialism… We believed that the Palestinians could rely only on themselves … [They had to] resist all attempts to place the Palestinian national movement under the tutelage of any Arab government… This being the case, we were not, as we explained to our militants, separatists. Quite the contrary, we aspired to become the champions of Arab unity, especially since we were convinced that the Palestinians would not be able to liberate their country single-handedly as long as the local and international balance of power remained what it was. Our goal was to become the catalyst of a unitary and revolutionary Arab force, the spearhead of a wide front which alone would be capable of restoring Palestinian rights (1978: 20, 32-3).

―When we demand our kiyan we effectively demand the freedom to work unhindered for the recovery of our country. We did not agree to trusteeship and we do not accept that anyone imposes its trusteeship on us … We will accept nothing less than our kiyan so it is the place from where we start the revolution and from where we will return to an Arab Palestine, a Palestine cleared of criminal Jews and of the colonialism, which has brought them‖ (my translation). 254

In a report to the UNGA, UN Secretary-General Dag Hammarskjöld had recommended in June 1959 that ―the Middle East states absorb the Palestinian refugees‖ (Shemesh 2008: 9). And US President Kennedy signaled his support to ―solve‖ the Palestinian refugee problem. 255

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The slogan of the first Fatah conference in 1962 reflected this position. It read: ―Go forward – to revolution. Long live Palestine, free and Arab‖ (quoted in Baumgarten 1991: 144). And even after 1968, the Covenant maintained that Israel was the result of ―Zionist and imperialist aggression against the Arab homeland‖ (article 15). Fatah‘s struggle was Arab nationalist in form, yet Palestinian in content. It did not contradict PLO‘s earlier position and the key tenets of the revised Covenant remained the same: Palestinian national unity, Arab national mobilization, and liberation (articles 10 & 11). In sum, Fatah‘s doctrine remained within the mold of revolutionary Arab nationalism. Yet it qualified its argument in important respects. Yes, Arab society as a whole was in dire need of liberation, but the primary goal was the struggle against Zionism – a struggle not about the correct political ideology but about the return of a people threatened in its existence. Given that liberating Palestine was a daunting task and required time and energy, Arab solidarity was essential, and concerted action ought not to be obstructed by ideological division and political bickering among Arabs. The goal was an Arab front spearheaded by the Palestinian people, not a single party. Finally, since liberation was the immediate task all questions concerning the political organization of Palestine should be postponed in order to avoid polemics and discord. The principle, however, that the land belongs to those who liberate it, had to be respected (Nakhleh 1971: 194). All this carried an important message: Arab nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding, the Palestinian kiyan would not dissolve into the Arab nation, and insofar the struggle for Palestine remained an Arab one this was out of strategic considerations rather than commitment to unification. In practical terms, this meant that the PLO behaved like a state when it announced to cooperate with the Arab regimes on an equal basis without exceptions or preferences and pledged to refrain from interfering into their internal affairs (PLO 1968: article 27). But before long, Fatah‘s Palestinianism clashed not only with the interests of Arab states but with Arab nationalist doctrine more generally.

Popular Armed Struggle The most potent expression of Fatah‘s Palestinianism was its idea of popular armed struggle. In the first issue of Filastinua of October 1959, it was stated that armed struggle was ―the only way to liberate Palestine‖ (Baumgarten 1991: 143). In these heady days the idea that only by violence the oppressed could be liberated was en vogue. Frantz Fanon, one of Abu Iyad‘s favorite authors, was read by self-declared revolutionaries around the world and his ideas also circulated among the Fatah membership (Baumgarten 1991: 262).256 Fanon‘s powerful amalgam of Hegelian dialectics, Freudian psychoanalysis and revolutionary Third Worldism asserted that only through an armed struggle could the colonial subject achieve mental liberation from the colonizer as compared to mere physical freedom. Armed struggle, its instrumental value apart, was imputed the capacity to produce a new man 256

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Halfway into the twentieth century successful national liberations movements abounded. Tito‘s partisans had withstood the Germans in the Second World War and Mao had overthrown Chiang Kai-shek, producing a fullfledged theory of revolutionary warfare. Before long, the Viet-Min victory at Dien-Bien Phu would bring to an end the French presence in Asia, and Che Guevara‘s foca in Cuba suggested that armed struggle could create its own condition for success. The struggle for Algerian independence in particular would inspire Fatah and when the FLN emerged victorious from its war against French colonialism they found therein an example to emulate (El-Rayyes and Nahas 1974: 7; Frangi 1983: 97). Sixteen years after the first signs of unrest and after roughly eight years into a bloody war, France had eventually conceded victory to the FLN.257 Arafat was deeply impressed and immediately paid a visit to Algiers.258 Algerians had liberated themselves. Egypt and Tunisia had provided precious political and material support to the FLN (not the least of which was the safe haven the fellaghas enjoyed across the border in Tunisia), but they had never actively intervened. The militants around Arafat were convinced that this could work in Palestine as well (Rubin 1994: 10). That the situation in Israel with its Jewish majority differed from the one in French Algeria where the pieds-noirs had been a minority seemed to matter little, so did the fact that militarily the FLN had been effectively defeated in 1960. The glorifying perception of the Algerian and later the Vietnamese struggle would influence the direction the PLO took after it was taken over by the fedayeen. The defeat of the Arab armies in 1967 meant that the struggle against Israel, if it was to continue, had to be escalated from below. Launching the guerrilla struggle ―would force the Palestinians to defend and organize themselves‖ – then the Arab armies would be ―forced to abandon their passive role and take up arms‖ (Frangi 1983: 97). The theme of popular armed struggle featured prominently the PLO‘s National Covenant of 1968. It provided concrete ideas of how the Palestinians‘ role as a vanguard in the struggle for Palestine was to be put into practice. It declared that ―commando action‖ was ―the nucleus of the Palestinian popular liberation war‖

and thus make history – an idea that enthralled even Sartre who provided the foreword to Fanon‘s masterpiece Les damnés de la terre. Superbly summarizing Fanon‘s praise of revolutionary violence he wrote: …le colonisé se guérit de la névrose coloniale en chassant le colon par les armes. Quand sa rage éclate, il retrouve sa transparence perdue, il se connaît dans la mesure même où il se fait ; de loin nous tenons sa guerre comme le triomphe de la barbarie ; mais elle procède par elle-même à l‘émancipation progressive du combattant, elle liquide en lui et hors de lui, progressivement, les ténèbres coloniales. … abattre un Européen c‘est faire d‘une pierre deux coups, supprimer en même temps un oppresseur et un opprimé : reste un homme mort et un homme libre ; le survivant, pour la première fois, sent un sol national sous la plante de ses pieds (Sartre [1961] 1991: 51-2, his emphasis). The Evian Accords of March 1962 sealed the fate of l‟Algérie française and hundreds of thousands pieds-noirs left the country for the northern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. 257

258

In 1963, Fatah‘s first foreign office would be opened in Algiers (Frangi 1983: 98).

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(PLO 1968). Article 9 anticipated an ―armed popular revolution‖ in which Palestinians would fight ―for the liberation of their country.‖ With that goal in mind, the Palestinian masses had to be organized (article 10). In reality, however, Fatah‘s military strategy was to prove obscure and replete with contradictions. Commando actions never came close to resemble something worthy of the name of armed popular revolution. In the early 1970s, ―despite official reconfirmation of the principle of armed struggle and of its accompanying tenets, such politico-military concepts as ‗guerrilla warfare‘ and ‗people‘s war‘ were effectively discarded‖ (Sayigh 1986: 100). For this and other reasons Baumgarten suggests that Fatah, despite declarations to the contrary, may not have had a military strategy at all (1991: 192). I will return to the question of Fatah‘s strategy of armed struggle in a moment. Before that, I will have a few words on the third point mentioned above, namely, the problems accruing from the focus on total liberation as the ultimate goal.

From Liberation to a State to Two States For Fatah as well as for the PLO before 1968, the goal of the Arab struggle against Zionism was the total liberation of Palestine. The refugees had to return, no matter what. Meanwhile it was made clear that Palestinians constituted a political actor in its own right. Whereas Fatah‘s Palestinianism enjoyed increasing popularity after 1967, the ultimate goal of liberation was not getting any closer. In fact the opposite was true. When the PLO came around in 1988 to declare Palestinian independence in the OTs the idea of two states in Palestine was coming of age. Indeed, the conditions for such a move were already present in the 1970s. That many Palestinians stubbornly refused to jettison the idea of liberation can be explained by the longing for return among the refugees, a goal which the focus on the OTs would compromise. The PLO was faced with nothing less than the dilemma of having to trade off potential statehood for liberation and return. The ambivalence with which the PLO treated the OTs and the West Bank in particular elucidates the obstacles that lay in the way of the two-state solution. After the 1948 War, the boundary separating the nascent Israeli state from the Kingdom of Jordan cut through Arab-majority territory. The political landscape of the West Bank was traditionally organized along family lines and highly localized. Its political elite, made of notables, was staunchly conservative though used to pragmatism in its dealings with higher authorities – characteristics it would retain for many years.259 Right after

Politics remained the domain of prominent families who held power in their respective regions (Sahliyeh 1988: 3-4). The traditionalism of West Bank politics was sustained by its socioeconomic structure: ―The West Bank area as a whole was primarily rural, without major urban centers (with the partial exception of Jerusalem and Nablus). The economy was based on agriculture, bolstered by income from tourism and by UNRWA payments and remittances from abroad. In all, 259

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the war their hopes had been for the re-establishment of the boundaries of the Mandate period, but soon their allegiance went over to the Hashemite monarchy. After the annexation in 1950, growing dependence on allowances from Amman and career opportunities in the Kingdom‘s political system strengthened their ties with the palace. Meanwhile, for those in the opposition, Arab nationalist doctrine provided convincing arguments not to challenge Jordan‘s sovereignty over the West Bank (Mishal 1981: 479-80). With only a few exceptions the situation remained calm until 1966. The 1967 War and Israeli occupation created a new situation but the West Bank elite preserved its well-entrenched pragmatism. Although the Israelis were perceived as illegitimate rulers, the majority of the West Bankers refrained from taking radical positions as Arafat had to learn when, right after the war, he failed to instigate an uprising there. The more it became clear that Israel would not easily relinquish the OTs, the more West Bankers began to consider different political options for an end to the occupation. The Israeli occupation put the West Bank at the center of a tug-of-war between the PLO and King Hussein. Whereas the monarchy demanded the restoration of its full sovereignty over the West Bank, the PLO insisted on total liberation and began to champion its project of a secular and democratic state. This, however, offered the West Bankers with some political leeway. If the implementation of Resolution 242 was to lead to Israel‘s withdrawal this had to go hand in hand with political reforms within Jordan, some contended. The scenarios that were contemplated reached from the democratization of the Kingdom (which would have effectively meant its Palestinization) to a federal structure with autonomy for the West Bank. In fact, Hussein‘s plan for a United Arab Kingdom catered to these demands. Others, quite audacious though, already suggested a Palestinian kiyan in the West Bank in return for the recognition of Israel. This would take the form of Palestinian self-rule or a UN trusteeship (Bailey 1978: 158). This, of course, was anathema to Jordan, and the PLO even threatened the lives of those promoting it. The PLO maintained its maximalist position and opposed any autonomous political initiative in the West Bank. It was anxious to prevent the rise of an alternative leadership. After all, it claimed the political leadership of the Palestinians in the struggle to liberate all of Palestine. For the PLO, local political activism threatened to drive a wedge between the Palestinians within and without, a development it feared Israel and Jordan would exploit to their advantage (see Jamal 2005: 30-1). The ideological justification for curtailing attempts to self-organization was the PLO‘s promotion of a policy of steadfastness (sumud in Arabic). In practical terms this meant ―passive resistance against any form of cooperation with the Israeli authorities, and the avoidance of any manifestation

approximately 85 percent of the West Bank‘s gross domestic product came from agriculture and service sectors‖ (Sahliyeh 1988: 12).

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of acquiescence of agreement to their presence‖ (Mishal 1981: 487-8). Right after 1968 the mobilization of the Palestinians under occupation was not welcome. Only after the PLO had secured alliances with local political forces in the West Bank, the OTs began to appear in a different light. The signal for a decisive policy shift came at the twelfth PNC in the summer of 1974. The goal to establish a ―national people‘s authority‖ in the liberated parts of Palestine was a landmark decision. It was a contested move and radical fedayeen factions left the PLO in protest. Yet, the creation of Palestinian political institutions was now freed from the prerequisite goal of total liberation. For many years the hope of a military victory had overshadowed a serious engagement with the question of what to do if Israel proved to be lasting. As Mishal and Diskin argue, although the decision has been explained ―as a tactical change, it marked a real shift in the PLO attitude toward the occupied territories … [it] began now to realize the expedience of political involvement in the West Bank for ensuring the loyalty of its population in future developments‖ (Mishal and Diskin 1982: 554). Meanwhile, King Hussein‘s prestige among the West Bank population, already tainted by the events of 1970, was waning. The most telling indicator of the PLO‘s success is provided by the comparison of the West Bank municipal elections in the 1970s, held under Israeli auspices. The Israeli decision to organize elections was motivated by the goal to foster a local leadership subservient to its designs and independent of the PLO which, in turn, had begun to pay greater attention to the struggle in the OTs following the disaster in Jordan (Hiltermann 1991: 43).260 Israel‘s approach found Hussein‘s support since the palace felt no less uneasy about the PLO and still hoped to reassert its influence in the OTs. In spite of the PLO‘s call for a boycott, the elections took place as planned in 1972, and pro-Jordanian candidates won. It was a setback but with minor consequences only.261 Four years later, the PLO, now with firmer roots in the OTs, approved communal elections there. This time, it was a sweeping success. Pro-PLO candidates achieved an overwhelming victory and won in all major towns – except Bethlehem where the Christian mayor Elias Freij prevailed though he hurried to appoint ―nationalists‖ to his staff (Bailey 1978: 162-3). ―The results of these elections,‖ according to Kirisci, ―were generally recognized as a referendum giving the PLO the mandate to represent the political aspirations of the Palestinians‖ (1986: 50). But the new mayors were not willing to unconditionally subordinate their interests to the PLO.

Israel sought to ―place the burden of ensuring popular acquiescence in Israeli rule upon the mayors‖ (Aronson 1990: 49). They were charged with administrative action like issuing entry permission from Jordan and import/export licenses, the administration of the educational system and health services, as well as the attributions of grants and loans. 260

Although the PLO did not succeed in obstructing the elections, the newly elected mayors could not ignore the PLO‘s increasing popularity and were unable to chart an independent course (Jamal 2005: 41). 261

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The pro-PLO mayors had run on a popular platform in support of a local organization, the Palestinian National Front (PNF [watan]). Created in 1973 by a coalition of unions, women and student groups, professional societies, and the Jordanian Communist Party (JCP), the PNF saw itself as ―an inseparable part of the Palestinian national movement represented in the [PLO]‖ (quoted in Hiltermann 1991: 44). But it was critical of the PLO‘s democratic, secular state. ―Such a demand, it was argued, was unachievable, and threatened to squander international diplomatic gains‖ (Aronson 1990: 54). Israel was there to stay. What the PNF projected instead was a Palestinian state in the OTs in accordance with resolution 242 (Jamal 2005: 42-3).262 Ibrahim Dakkak remembers that already ―in its first memorandum of January 1974 to the PLO executive‖ the PNF had insisted on the necessity to stress ―the Palestinian ‗presence‘ and ‗right‘ in the West Bank and Gaza Strip rather than the Arab right‖ (1983: 90). West Bankers were beginning to define their own political agenda. The elections of 1976, although reflecting the people‘s allegiance to the PLO, signaled that they were not unconditionally submitting themselves to its leadership and the interests of the refugees abroad. 263 The new West Bank leaders displayed ―an inclination to continue to make allowances for local interests and old loyalties, despite what might be called their radical world view‖ (Mishal 1981: 488-9). And for Aronson, their election was ―a bold expression of local tradition‖ and ―reflected the popular desire for Palestinian independence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip‖ (1990: 54-5).264 Tensions between those ―within‖ and those ―without‖ would resurface in the following years. It was the strategic value of the West Bank that had convinced the PLO to reconsider the role of the OTs. There is no doubt that the decision of the twelfth PNC of 1974 in favor of the establishment of a ―national authority‖ stood for a new approach. For the first time since 1968, four West Bankers were to be found on the PLO‘s Executive Committee (Frisch 2009: 250).265 Yet, the PLO remained obsessed with Jordan and the looming threat of a separate peace deal which would have finished off its dream of liberation. For the time being, a ministate in the OTs, as some had suggested, was difficult to imagine since its only chance of Note that the diplomatic recognition of the PLO in 1973/74 ―created the impression that Resolution 242 would either be changed or interpreted to mean that the PLO rather than Jordan had the right to take over the West Bank when Israel withdrew‖ (Bailey 1978: 162-3). 262

As Karim Khalaf, one of the mayors, explained: ―the nationalists were elected not because they represented the PLO but rather as an expression of popular support for the organization. This distinction was important, for it reflected the mayors‘ persistent intention to look to their local constituencies before looking to Beirut for political direction‖ (quoted in Aronson 1990: 173). 263

Indeed, some from the ―outside‖ decried the activity ―inside‖ and called for the establishment of a ―true‖ Palestinian National Front that is, a qawmiya front instead of a wataniya one (Dakkak 1983: 178). 264

265

The very decision had been requested by the West Bank PNF in a letter to Arafat (Dakkak 1983: 77).

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success was to accept King Hussein‘s tutelage.266 Fatah‘s ideology and its view of the West Bank in the 1970s thus were still impregnated by revolutionary Arab nationalist thinking.267 Insofar the West Bank received attention and its inhabitants were encouraged to assert their Palestinianism, it was in the name of Arab unity and, ultimately, total liberation and return. It took another scathing defeat, this time in Lebanon, and Egypt‘s disengagement from the Arab-Israeli conflict to steer the PLO into a new direction. While Sadat‘s visit to Jerusalem in November 1977 had received a positive reaction in the OTs, the autonomy provisions of the subsequent negotiations at Camp David met with outright rejection. The Palestinian leadership in the West Bank denounced the plan as ―contrary to Palestinian interests and Palestinians‘ right to self-determination‖ (Hiltermann 1991: 47). The newly created National Guidance Committee (NGC) then made a bold move and, all while stressing its allegiance to the PLO, called for a Palestinian state side by side with Israel. The issue of the ‗inside‘ versus the ‗outside‘ now acquired ―particular significance‖ (Aronson 1990: 182). Seeing the powerlessness of the external leadership, the Palestinians in the OTs became more assertive. The diaspora was pushed to consider pragmatic solutions, short of total liberation. In 1983, the PLO was forced to endorse at its sixteenth PNC an Arab peace plan, the so-called Fez Peace Plan. Hewn out the year before, Israel‘s withdrawal from the OTs and the establishment of a Palestinian state were set as the basic conditions to end the Arab-Israeli conflict (Muslih 1990: 20-1). Under duress, the PLO also came around to envisage a confederation with Jordan as the basis for its future relations with the Kingdom (Siniora 1988:11). The Amman Agreement of February 1985 sketched the contours of a joint approach to Arab-Israeli peace negotiations within the framework of an international conference. It declared that ―negotiations would be conducted on the basis of the ‗land for peace‘ principle and entail recognition of the Palestinian people‘s right to self-determination, to be implemented in a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation‖ (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 21). Yet, it all came to naught. After its initial suspension by the PLO, Hussein, who preferred a federative solution, rescinded the deal in 1986 (Heikal 1996: 376).268 At the Arab Summit in November 1987 – on the very eve of the Intifada – Syria and Jordan launched an initiative to undercut the Abu Ayad (1978) asserts in his memoirs that Nasser, in August 1970, had advised them to aim for a ministate in Gaza and the West Bank, a suggestion they squarely rejected (see also Carré 1980: 37). Apparently they referred to it using the notion duwaylah, the Arabic diminutive for state (Muslih 1990: 15). 266

267

As an article in al-Fajr, a Jerusalem newspaper close to Fatah, argued in 1974: The idea of returning the oppressive Jordanian regime to Palestine under the slogan of ‗loyalty to Arab unity‘ is no more than a barefaced distortion and a blow to Arab unity. Similarly, unity with Jordan at the expense of the Palestinians‘ right to self determination would be no more than a gift to Israel (25 October 1974, quoted Bailey 1978: 162).

268

The Amman Agreement was officially annulled by the eighteenth PNC in April 1987.

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PLO‘s standing as sole representative of the Palestinians. The PLO, isolated in Tunis, was cornered and had no more to offer while the Palestinians in the OTs were more desperate than ever. It was by a twist of history that the illusion of total liberation nurtured by Arab nationalism was demystified. The idea had always been that Palestinian self-determination, whatever form it would take, would be achieved through a military victory. But in the face of Israel‘s resilience and Arab lack of unity, the only option left was a Palestinian state achieved through self-determination tout court. The political circumstances and the demographic reality pointed to the OTs as the only place where such an approach could be realized. Renouncing more than two thirds of Palestine in return for the OTs was hard to swallow for the Palestinian leadership for it was nothing short of conceding defeat. It was the unexpected outbreak of Intifada that paved the way to a turn away from armed struggle and toward self-determination and statehood in the OTs.

3) FATAH’S ARMED STRUGGLE Fatah‘s armed struggle grew out of the conviction that it was foolish to rely on the Arab states to deliver the refugees from their plight. The fedayeen dreamt of a popular war of liberation which was to mobilize the Arab world and help them recover Palestine from its Zionists usurpers. In its early days, however, Fatah was politically marginal, lacking popular support and without military capabilities worth mentioning. According to an early member, the Palestinian public ―offered only quiet and passive support, and was unwilling to take part in fida‘iyyun activity or provide the necessary backing …‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 93). What is more, in the late 1950s, when Fatah was founded, the debate on Arab strategy against Israel revolved around the question of when to resume a conventional war under Egypt‘s leadership. The idea of guerrilla warfare was rejected in Arab nationalist circles aligned on Nasser‘s position. On a more general point, applying the concept of guerrilla warfare to a country as homogenous as Israel was an oddity. The 1948 war had decisively contributed to reverse the demographic balance in favor of the Zionist project. Among 2.5 or so million Jews lived an Arab minority of about 300 000 which was locally concentrated at a few spots. If, according to Mao, the guerrillero‘s advantage was that among her people she was like a fish in the water, for the fedayeen Israel had become a dry pond. After Israel‘s occupation of the West Bank, the chance for a successful guerrilla seemed real since it had a Palestinian majority, but Fatah‘s attempt to launch an armed insurrection in the fall of 1967 ended in defeat. Indeed, the direct impact of Fatah‘s armed struggle was next to nil. The raids had to be conducted from across the border. Failing to secure a firm support base in the land they sought to liberate, the fedayeen were

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operating from the soil of the so-called Arab front states. In Jordan and Lebanon this embroiled them in domestic political conflicts – with disastrous consequences, as I will show. Consequently, the fedayeen began to turn away from their guerrilla-type struggle which had shown extremely costly (Wolf 1973: 7). Remnants of that strategy led in the 1970s into a vicious campaign of urban terrorism by independent PLO fronts or renegade groups like Abu Nidal‘s Black September. Highly publicized in the West these were, however, rather symptoms of the impasse into which the Palestinian struggle had been driven by its own success. I will take this thread up at a later point. Whatever the chances of a guerrilla struggle, at least initially, the fedayeen believed in the potential of direct violence to wear down the Israelis – a strategy of political violence I have coined ―tyranny.‖ But they already knew that the indirect effects political violence could produce were more powerful. Armed incursions into Israel, although usually insignificant from a military point of view, provoked punitive operations by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). Israel‘s policy of retaliation soon became an asset. Not only did it help to put pressure on Arab front states with regard to their policy toward the fedayeen – and, so some hoped, Israel – but it also had the crucial effect of amplifying the impact of guerrilla attacks which otherwise would have gone unnoticed. Given Fatah‘s weakness, its only chance to survive lay in attracting Palestinians support and win over the Arab masses. The key to the liberation of Palestine, so they thought, was the Palestinization of the Palestinians. To this end, the armed struggle was considered pivotal. Indeed, it would secure them broad legitimacy.

Creating Coast and Garnering Legitimacy Given that a guerrilla war was unlikely to be successful, the idea was to bleed Israel by involving it in a protracted and costly low intensity conflict, as Nasser had attempted before 1956. The fedayeen hoped to ―create and maintain an atmosphere of strain and anxiety that will force the Zionists to realize that it is impossible for them to live in Israel… [and] bring about the disintegration of the enemy state and its eventual dissolution‖ (quoted in Rubin 1991: 154).269 Once exhausted by a war of attrition, the regular Arab armies would strike and complete the liberation of Palestine. Although it was clear that the total liberation of Palestine could only be achieved by concerted Arab action, Arab states showed circumspect in taking on Israel. With regard to their stance, guerrilla warfare had the advantage of being a potential lever. Incursions into Israel staged from the front states were thought to give the fedayeen control over the timing of a new round of escalation in the Arab-Israeli conflict. Baumgarten for instance claims, that ―it was clear that The costs they imagined they could impose covered a wide range of areas. It would prevent immigration, encourage emigration, and prevent immigrants from becoming attached to the land. It would destroy the tourist industry and weaken the Israeli economy by forcing it to divert an ever greater part of its revenues to security. 269

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Fatah‘s strategy of launching guerrilla operations from the host countries was aimed at provoking Israeli retaliation, which in turn would draw the host country‘s army into the fighting‖ (2005: 35). The strategy became known as tawreet, ―literally ‗pulling the legs‘, but in this context implying ‗dragging them feet-first‘‖ (Heikal 1996: 125). Fatah, from the beginning, understood that its armed struggle was not so much a military but a political strategy. 270 The Arab capitals feared – and rightly so – that the operations conducted independently by a radical fringe would do nothing more than provoke Israel. It risked squandering the advantage of deciding on the right time for re-escalating the conflict (Hart 1998: 160). The wish to see the fedayeen operate from someone else‘s territory (often Jordan) as well as the harsh treatment meted out at Palestinian activists (especially in Egypt, Jordan and Syria) testifies to these apprehensions. Above all, they were a nuisance.271 All considered, Arab regimes had a vested interest, despite rhetoric to the contrary, in reigning in the fedayeen. Although the fedayeen faced a lot of adversity and the military struggle against Israel was doomed to fail, there was a more fundamental rationale for launching a guerrilla struggle. Palestinians had to mobilize lest the conflict over Palestine be forgotten. Otherwise, Fatah risked ending up on the scrapheap of history. Moreover, they were convinced that the Arab struggle for Palestine had to be led by the Palestinians. In order to make that happen, Palestinians needed to be mobilized – not as Arabs but as Palestinians. The lack of unity of purpose in the face of territorial dispersal and political fragmentation had to be overcome first. Here the armed struggle was to prove instrumental. Fatah faced the problem of all so-called national liberation movements: the people in whose name they launched their revolutionary struggle remained an idea, a mere projection, the common denominator ―Palestinians‖ notwithstanding. ―Palestinian‖, until late, was only a geographical attribute specifying a subgroup of the greater Arab nation. The Palestinians, insofar as they had existed as a political community, were dispossessed, fragmented and politically emasculated. Absent the concept of a Palestinian nation, they rather found solace in looking up to Nasser or rallying behind King Hussein. But the Arab re-conquest of Palestine, the way Fatah imagined it, required a Palestine vanguard. Fatah‘s political survival thus depended on the

Short of a fully-fledged war, guerrilla warfare, it was thought, could help them to gain the attention of the superpowers. The mere risk of an escalation would attract their attention and, perhaps, lead to material or diplomatic support against Israel. But, as Wolf writes, ―[i]nsofar they wanted to play high politics Palestinian strategy was an abysmal failure, ―as evidenced by the remarkable reduction in cold war tension apparent after Richard Nixon‘s visit to Moscow and Peking and the withdrawal of Russian military personnel from Egypt during the summer of 1972‖ (1973: 7). 270

271

Information on the early fedayeen raids into Israel were suppressed in the Arab news media (Baumgarten 1991: 204).

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materialization of the Palestinians as a people in its own right. Hence, its program was built on a paradox. The Palestinian kiyan, at the same time, became the starting point and end result of its struggle. In order to gain political legitimacy Fatah needed to bring the kiyan to life. This was to be the foundation of Fatah‘s Palestinianism. As Gérard Chaliand, an early student of the fedayeen movement, wrote: ―Of course the conflict is a national one, and it is only natural that El Fatah should be a broadly based movement for which the objective of creating a sense of national identity remains the first priority‖ (1972: 68). And Baumgarten concurs: ―Die Palästinenser mußten zu Revolutionären gemacht werden, die sich voll und ganz dem Ziel ihres Volkes widmeten, der Befreiung Palästinas und seiner Rückkehr in den Kreis der Staaten der arabischen Nation‖ (Baumgarten 1991: 147).272 It is to that end that the armed struggle was of crucial value. Fatah‘s revolutionary armed struggle was, above all, an ideology. Whatever Fatah said, in practical terms its struggle was not so much aimed at Israel as at the Palestinians and the world at large. They sought the mobilization of the Palestinians as a people, that is, the transformation or (re-)establishment of a collective identity shattered by the Nakba (Baumgarten 1991: 193, 205). The armed struggle had to turn those nominally Palestinians into a political community apart. Abu Iyad, in all frankness, did confirm this when he stated with regard to Fatah‘s armed struggle: Not that we harbored any illusions regarding our ability to overcome the Zionist state. But we believed that it was the only way to impose the Palestinian cause on world opinion, and especially the only way to rally our masses to the peoples‘ movement we were trying to create … Only armed struggle would be capable of transcending ideological differences and thus become the catalyst of unity (1978: 35). And as Arafat remarked some years later: ―From the very beginning I was saying that it was only by fighting that we Palestinians could fix our identity. So far as I was concerned there was no point in discussing a solution to our problem until we had demonstrated that it was a problem which would not go away‖ (quoted in Hart 1998: 251). In sum, the whole point about taking up arms was the expected effect this would have on the Palestinians whose hearts and minds Fatah sought to win over for their struggle. Only by mobilizing them could the Palestinians play the role assigned to them in the Arab struggle for Palestine. The armed struggle, in short, was meant to promote Fatah‘s Palestinianism. What eventually made Palestinians into a people was the

―The Palestinians had to be made into revolutionaries, fully and completely dedicated to their people‘s goal: the liberation of Palestine and its reintegration into the community of Arab nations‖ (my translation). 272

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experience of the struggle.273 It was the repeated escalation of violence, provoked by fedayeen action, which transformed the political identity of Palestinians – but in quite unexpected ways. Although it did not bring them closer to military victory these episodes provided Fatah with a degree of political legitimacy that external actors, in the region and abroad, could not ignore. Armed Struggle as Politics: Provoking Retaliation In Fatah‘s struggle political concerns took precedence over military aspects. What ultimately mattered was the political dividend to be gained from an escalation of violence. Before taking on Israel, the paramount goal was to gain the leadership of the Palestinians and, at the same time, make the Palestinians be accepted as a people and actors in their own right – legitimacy was a key resource in this struggle (Baumgarten 1991: 194, 170). Violence mattered insofar as it provoked reactions. The suffering caused by the vicious reactions to armed provocations would eventually usher in a people‘s liberation war. Writes Taraki: … the expansion of destruction resulting from the ever-widening circle of Israeli targets would only serve to expand the community of those suffering from the destruction. …, the level of political consciousness would rise, and sooner or later the realization would become universal that either the people will succeed in resisting Zionism or be crushed by it (1990: 56). The capacity to escalate the simmering conflict at their will provided the fedayeen with a lever and secured them a standing far greater than their real military or political strength. Starting in 1965 and throughout several episodes of escalating violence, Fatah‘s standing did not cease to increase. This process was sustained by a growing Palestinianism among those who would introduce themselves to international politics as Palestinians. Fatah thereby applied a lesson their founders had learned in the early 1950s. The origins of the fedayeen movement and more importantly its strategic reasoning can be traced back to the run-off to the 1956 war. In the early 1950s Britain still maintained a military presence in Egypt. The Wafd government entered into negotiations with London over full independence, but the British balked, considering their control over the Suez Canal as a vital strategic interest (Rogan 2011: 352).274 Looking for ways to pressure London, the Wafd tacitly approved guerrilla operations against British installations in the Canal Zone. One of those in charge, in 1951, to train engineering students at Cairo University who volunteered to join the fedayeen units was the young Arafat (Abu Iyad 1978: 19-20). The British responded with force, and, in January 1952, they began to occupy Egyptian police stations in the Canal Zone alleging that policemen lent support to the fedayeen. The Egyptian government ordered its officers My position contrasts with Baumgarten‘s who assumes that it was just the ideology of armed struggle that mobilized Palestinians (see 1991: 194). 273

The Wafd Party, for almost three decades, was Egypt‘s most influential political party. Abolished after the Free Officers coup in 1952 it was nationalist and advocated a constitutional monarchy. 274

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not to surrender. When a clash in Ismailia opposing 250 policemen to 1,500 British troops escalated into a several hour-long battle, leaving dozens dead and wounded, the political climate in Egypt reached a boiling point (Rogan 2011: 354). A general strike, called for 25 January, degenerated into anti-Western rioting and set off a chain of events that would lead in a few months‘ time to the Free Officers coup, the end of the monarchy, and the birth of the Republic. The dedicated action of a few had had an enormous impact. Having shown its effectiveness, guerrilla warfare would then make its appearance on the Sinai/Gaza border with Israel. The young state of Israel feared instability along its border with Egypt which, for Cairo, remained a mere line of demarcation, by virtue of the armistice agreement of February 1949.275 Infiltrations from the Gaza Strip – then under temporary military administration by Egypt – were a constant source of tension. These were not so much organized but individual acts of Palestinians who tried to recover lost property or sought revenge (Rogan 2011: 365).276 The Egyptian authorities in Gaza turned a blind eye on this practice and some allege that they actively encouraged it. Either way, for the Israelis, Egypt was guilty by omission for it did not seal the border. Intransigent on the nature of the boundary separating it from its Arab neighbors, Israel adopted a policy of armed retaliation. 277 ―Israel,‖ writes Oren, ―viewed infiltration as part of the Arab plan to destroy the Jewish state, and on this basis reserved the right to retaliate against any Arab target, i.e. not necessarily the origin of the attack‖ (1989: 349). 278 Mining and sniping incidents increased and in 1953 the IDF established a special unit under the command of Ariel Sharon exclusively dedicated to ―large-scale reprisals against infiltrators‖ (Oren 1989: 353-4).

Egypt showed no interest in transforming the cease fire boundary line into a mutually accepted border. Indeed, according to the armistice agreement, the border represented no more than an international demarcation line which was ―not [to be] construed in any sense as a political or territorial boundary‖ (quoted in Oren 1989: 350). 275

Back then there were about 200 000 refugees in Gaza which had an indigenous population of about 100 000 (Oren 1989: 349). 276

The first time the Israeli side resorted to retaliation can be dated to the 21 October 1950. Writes Oren: ―following the murder of two IDF officers by infiltrators, Israel launched its first retaliation in Gaza, killing an undisclosed number of refugees and causing extensive damage to property‖ (1989: 352) 277

Punitive raids turned into a strategy in its own right when retaliation became a form of deterrence: ―Israel sometimes applied her policy of retaliation for reasons other than as a reply to prior Arab forays. Since Israelis considered the armistice agreements to be ‗indivisible,‘ they contended that they were justified in using armed raids as reprisals for any injuries suffered by Israel as a result of Arab boycotts and blockades, which they claimed to be violations of these agreements. Israelis also hoped, in this way, to compel the Arabs to put an end to these activities‖ (Khouri 1966: 438). This policy was based on Israel‘s interpretation of articles 1(2) and 11(2) of the Egypt-Israel Armistice Agreement which forbade the threat or execution of any hostile actions by the regular or paramilitary forces of either side. For Israel this included refugee infiltration across the border, a blockade of the Suez Canal, and hostile propaganda (Oren 1989: 348). In retaliating Israel frequently went well beyond the principle of ―an eye for an eye‖ as, for instance, in October 1953 when in reaction to the murder of an Israeli woman and two children, Israeli military forces attacked the Jordanian village of Qibya, killing 42 men, women and children and injuring 15 other persons. 278

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The result was a ―classic vicious circle: infiltration brought retaliation, causing refugee unrest, which then forced Egypt to support further infiltration and reinforce its troops in the Strip, all of which, in turn, fanned Israel‘s insecurity and increased its need to retaliate‖ (Oren 1989: 350). Egypt‘s unwillingness or incapacity to curb incursions only stiffened Israel‘s resolve to strike back although this failed to have a deterrent effect. The escalating violence along the border would lead to the outbreak of the 1956 war (Sayigh 1998: 98). The situation worsened when the Egyptian authorities in Gaza, in reaction to Israeli raids, began co-opting Palestinians, tasking them with the provision of security. An attack on Gaza‘s al-Burayj camp in August 1953 had sparked angry protests by the refugees who demanded guns to defend themselves. Egypt reacted by moving more troops into Gaza. Sabotage operations against the Negev pipelines were conducted and, later that year, a Palestinian Civil Guard was established in Gaza (Oren 1989: 353-4). In March 1954 another raid from Gaza which killed several Israelis was answered by an attack on Jordan in order not to give Nasser a pretext to reciprocate but the Israeli attack on the West Bank village of Nakhalin caused unrest in Gaza nonetheless. In order to placate the Palestinians, the Egyptian authorities deployed the so-called Civilian Guard to the bunkers along the border. ―This resulted in a leap in escalation, as for the first time Israeli and Egyptian border positions exchanged heavy fire – sixteen such clashes occurred in the first two weeks of April‖ (Oren 1989: 355). Throughout the rest of the year and into the summer of 1955 the political climate between Israel and Egypt soured. Nasser‘s successful negotiation of a British departure from the Canal Zone was apprehended by the Israelis while a series of anti-Western sabotage acts conducted by Israeli agents in Egypt infuriated the Egyptian government.279 Ben Gurion‘s return to power in early 1955 set the stage for a new round of violence, with far-reaching consequences. Israel ratcheted up its retaliatory attacks and, in February 1955, for the first time, began to attack Egyptian military installations in Gaza. Writes Oren: ―The extent of the reprisal – thirtyseven Egyptians killed and twenty-eight wounded – shocked the world‖ (1989: 357).

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In the following

months, the international community frantically endeavored to reorganize the parameters of the ceasefire – without lasting success.

This episode became known as the Lavon Affair, name after the then Israeli Defense Minister Pinhas Lavon who had to bear the political responsibility for the botched operation. 279

The mixed committee overseeing the ceasefire rejected Israel‘s claim that the attack was the spontaneous reaction of an IDF patrol to an Egyptian ambush. It ―condemned Israel for an ‗act of brutal aggression‘, to which was added the unanimous condemnation of the Security Council on 29 March‖ (Oren 1989: 357). The next day, anti-Egypt protests erupted in Gaza. 280

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A few years later, taking stock of the raid‘s impact on Egyptian domestic politics, Khouri wrote: ―The Egyptian public, relatively moderate in its attitude towards Israel in the past, now became highly incensed. The young army officers who had experienced the humiliating defeat of Egypt in the Palestine War demanded that Nasser start building up Egypt‘s military power so that she would not have to suffer further affronts to her pride‖ (1966: 440). Nasser abided by the demands. ―Defense‖ was accorded priority, part of which was a policy of ―active deterrence‖, meaning the training of Palestinian volunteers in fedayeen units for reprisal raids against Israel (Sayigh 1998: 98). Nasser was under pressure to strike at Israel, but lacking the means for a conventional military response, he turned to guerrilla warfare (Oren 1989: 358-9). By early 1956, a veritable border war was taking place, punctuated by fedayeen raids for which Egypt began to claim credit (Oren 1989: 360). 281 In April, following another exchange of fire and an Israeli attack killing several dozen Gazans, Egypt orchestrated a string of fedayeen attacks from Lebanon and Jordan. Although its actual impact was minimal, international diplomacy now began to focus on the fedayeen over whom Nasser denied to have any control (Oren 1989: 363). In fact, the fedayeen had become Nasser‘s trump card, for only Israel would now be held accountable for a renewed escalation. The ensuing tit-for-tat along the border and under international supervision made Israel enter into the secret deal with Britain and France that would bring the Suez War. In late October 1956, the resumption of fedayeen raids, ordered by Nasser, provided Israel with a pretext to invade the Sinai (Oren 1989: 364). In the aftermath of the 1956 War and with Egypt back in control over Gaza, Nasser changed tack and sought to rein in the fedayeen. But the genie was out of the bottle. The lessons of the early 1950s were not forgotten. Inspired by the precedent then set, plans were hatched to re-launch the armed struggle (Shemesh 2008: 78). When Fatah came out of the shadows, Arafat and his men would prove a constant embarrassment to Nasser for while he feared their destabilizing potential he felt obliged by his vows of commitment to the Palestinian cause.282 What they did was to turn armed provocation into the center piece of their political strategy – a strategy that aimed first and foremost at mobilizing Palestinians. In Israel they found a foe all too ready to react in a way that would transform minor incidences into political bushfires.

For the period from 1 January 1955 to 30 September 1956, the UN Truce Supervisory Organization (UNTSO) reported the following verified casualties: 496 Arabs killed and 419 injured and 121 Israelis killed and 332 injured (Khouri 1966: 438). Note that since May 1955 fedayeen attacks were increasingly conducted from Jordan or Lebanon in order to reduce risks of retaliation against Egypt. 281

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Usually it is assumed that Nasser used the fedayeen as his proxy. The story, as I show, is more complicated than that.

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III) A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE The fedayeen, out of a position of utter weakness, used violence not so much for military but political ends. The escalation of violence was considered instrumental in mobilizing the masses for the struggle against Zionism. The problem was the addressee. From an Arab nationalist perspective the Arab nation as a whole was to be mobilized, especially those populations living under so-called reactionary regimes. Fatah‘s Palestinianism, by contrast, stressed the vanguard role of the Palestinians and, rejecting leftist rhetoric, aimed at the Palestinian people as a whole. While some fedayeen factions would continue to consider the Arab people in their entirety as their constituency, Fatah‘s Palestinianism ultimately prevailed. The idea of the Palestinian people as vanguard of the Arab re-conquest of Palestine, as laid down in the Covenant, did not come out of the blue. It rather betrayed a sense of political realism for it was clear that such a scenario, though ideologically appealing, was highly improbable. Israel‘s sheer power and the fragmentation of the Arab world, aggravated by long-standing animosities, made the liberation of Palestine recede into a distance. Confronted with the likelihood of the balance of power remaining in favor of Israel, the aim of mobilizing Palestinians as Palestinians became the primary goal. The armed struggle, rather than making Palestinians the vanguard of the Arab nation, constituted them as a people and political community – a nation in all but the name. Chaliand, impressed by Fatah‘s feat and keen to grasp the peculiarity of Fatah‘s struggle marveled: To use Cuban terminology, the Palestinian resistance began as a ‗foco‘, a flash-point of armed violence without any political preparation of the population that it was hoped to bring into the struggle. Although the strategy of the ‗foco‘ applied within the framework of class struggle proved ineffective in Latin America, the armed core of the Palestinian Resistance, thanks to the military collapse of the Arab states, did prove effective within the framework of a national movement (1972: 61, his emphasis). The vicious reactions to the deeds of a committed few vindicated the existence of a people apart. Palestinians were palestinianized. The internationalization of the armed struggle by a campaign of international terrorism helped to transpose this success to the international realm. The legitimacy of Palestinian national aspiration that the internationalization of the struggle created on the world stage was in turn predicated on the plausibility of the claim that there was indeed a nation waiting to realize its right to self-determination. How this was to work out in practice is the subject of the following part which narrates several episodes of escalating violence – all crucial events in the mobilization of the Palestinians.

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1) FIRST RAIDS INTO ISRAEL Cross-border raids by armed bands into Israel had taken place before, ever since Israel‘s creation in May 1948. Not organized first, Egypt began to train fedayeen for its war of attrition against Israel. This backfired when it gave Israel a pretext to invade the Sinai in 1956. Grown wiser, Egypt, having recovered Gaza, kept the Palestinians under tight control. It was out of these paramilitary units that the early Fatah activists would emerge, determined to re-launch the struggle against Zionism on their own terms. An Israeli retaliatory operation against their raids from the West Bank would be their first tangible success. The first Fatah-led attack on Israeli territory took place on 1 January 1965. In order to deflect negative reactions from the organization the pseudonym al-Asifa, meaning ―storm‖ in Arabic, was used. The target was the Israeli water supply system that had become a contentious issue between Israel and its Arab neighbors and had featured prominently in the deliberation at the first Arab Summit. As a target it was highly symbolic in that it stood as an accusation of the Arab regimes who refrained from taking decisive steps in countering Israel‘s project of diverting the Jordan‘s headwaters. This event would mark the official founding date of Fatah. It underscores the centrality of political violence in its struggle and in particular its use of armed provocation for political ends (Rubin 1994: 10-1). Egypt feared Israel‘s reaction and Cairo promptly accused the fedayeen via the pro-Egyptian Lebanese press to be part of a ―NATO-Israel connection‖. The ANM, on its part, issued an internal statement saying that ―Fatah is a suspect movement tied to CENTO [Central Treaty Organization], that aims to involve Nasir in a battle he is not prepared for and so be defeated‖ (quoted in Sayigh 1991: 620). Measures were taken in order to rein them in. The commander of the UAC ordered the chiefs-of-staff of Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon to deny the fedayeen freedom of movement (Shemesh 2002: 148-9). A Jordanian army bulletin stated that ―the forces of al-Asifa under the command of Fatah are endangering the Jordanian border by their activity in the occupied area . . . We order . . . all front-line units to be on the alert and to detain any members of these organizations‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2002: 150). It is telling in that regard that the first casualty from among Fatah was caused by the Jordanian army when a fedayeen was shot crossing back from Israel after an attack (Rubin 1994: 11).283 The early attacks were all minor incidents. They reflected the lack of professionalism of the guerrillas. Some even claim that, lacking operatives, Fatah paid local criminals and smugglers to carry out attacks (Gowers and

Also, in December 1965, a Fatah activist was arrested at the Lebanese border and apparently killed during interrogations (Cobban 1984: 47). 283

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Walker 1992: 41).284 The damage they caused was minimal and Israel had no reason to fear an insurgency. General Aharon Yariv, at the time Israel‘s head of military intelligence, is quoted stating that ―[t]he first terrorist raids were a nuisance, not a strategic threat – not politically, nor militarily‖ (quoted in Gowers and Walker 1992: 41). Nonetheless, Israel reacted furiously. When in February a farm was attacked by fedayeen entering from the West Bank the tension mounted. Israel would not tolerate threats to its civilian population but incursions continued. At the end of May 1965, having repeatedly warned Jordan of the consequences were it not to prevent these raids, the IDF raided villages in the West Bank considered to be the bases of the so-called ―saboteurs‖. The retaliatory operation was also ―meant as a warning to Jordan that she would be held responsible for any future Al-Fatah raids originating from her territory‖ (Khouri 1966: 449). Yet, the stream of fedayeen incursions did not abate and so the Israeli counterattacks continued – and although the IDF appears to have sought to avoid civilian casualties, the raids took a heavy toll on the populations on both sides of the border.285 Prior to June 1967, the lion‘s share of attacks was launched from Jordanian territory, but also from southern Lebanon. In both countries fedayeen activity was a constant embarrassment to those in power while Fatah‘s main sponsor, the Baathist regime in Damascus, refused to take any responsibility for the incidents.286 The number of raids increased throughout 1965, and in the summer of 1966 the Israeli-Syrian border became the scene of heavy fighting between conventional forces prompting both states to seize the UNSC without tangible effect (Khouri 1966: 451).287

What has been confirmed is that Fatah, in the beginning, had to hire guerrilla fighters for money from among the refugees in Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan (Baumgarten 1991: 208). The line separating criminals from ―liberation fighters‖ is thin, if not blurred, especially in the early days of a resistance movement. Lacking military resources, an organization needs to recruit personnel with some previous skills in handling weapons and clandestine activities. 284

The list of incidents is long. For example, on 31 May 1965, two Israeli civilians were killed and four others were wounded in a shootout in Jerusalem. On 2 June and 5 July fedayeen, coming from Jordan, attacked two Israeli settlements, a railroad, and a forester‘s observation tower. On 2 September a well was blown up which the IDF answered by destroying irrigation pumps in the West Bank killing an Arab in the way. ―The Israelis left pamphlets which warned the villagers to stop giving shelter to Arab infiltrators‖ (Khouri 1966: 449). 285

Israel also launched retaliatory assaults on Lebanon. In October 1965, following a bomb attack, IDF units crossed into the border and destroyed water reservoirs and the home of a village chief (Khouri 1966: 450). 286

In reaction to sabotage acts the Israeli Air Force bombed construction sites of the water diversion project for the headwaters of the Jordan – measures the Syrians had taken in order to offset the Israeli attempt to claim the Jordan headwaters for themselves. This precipitated an air battle and Syrian warning that further incursions would lead to strong reactions (Khouri 1966: 451). However, skirmishes along the border remained a recurrent phenomenon with heavy artillery and airplanes used by both sides. 287

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Incursions from Jordanian territory into Israel went on and Hussein, though anxious not to present Israel with a pretext to invade the West Bank, proved unable to halt the attacks, not least because many of his field commanders sympathized with the fedayeen (Shemesh 2002: 150).288 Things came to a head in November 1966 when three Israeli soldiers were killed and six wounded as their half-track went over a mine south of Hebron. Israel retaliated with a massive show of force raiding the village where the culprits had allegedly found shelter. On 13 November 1966, the West Bank hamlet of Samu in the Hebron Mountains was attacked in a large-scale operation involving not only ground troops but also the Israeli air force. At the end of the day, according to the Jordanian defense minister‘s report, fifteen Jordanian soldiers and five civilians were dead. Thirty-four soldiers and six civilians had been wounded and ninety-three houses destroyed (including the police station and a girls school) (Shemesh 2002: 151). The West Bankers were outraged. Demonstrations erupted and for more than two weeks engulfed the West Bank leading to occasional riots and bloody clashes with Jordanian security forces. Starting in urban centers like Hebron, Nablus, Tulkarem, and Jenin, and then spreading to East Jerusalem and Ramallah, the upheaval eventually reached smaller villages and refugee camps. The Jordanian army was called in to restore order when security forces and official buildings were attacked with shotguns. Only the strict enforcement of curfews over the whole of the West Bank calmed the situation.289 The Israeli raid had thrown the West Bank into a state of ―unprecedented anti-Hashemite ferment‖ (Shemesh 2002: 153). The ―wall of silence‖ with which Jordan had surrounded the fedayeen movement collapsed (Nakhleh 1971: 192). On 20 November alone 10 000 demonstrators marched through the streets of Nablus carrying pictures of Egypt‘s Nasser and banners with Arab nationalist slogans. What made the events in 1966 differ from earlier protests like those in 1963 was next to their sheer dimension the level of organization and the demands that were raised. A few days into the protest, a ―National Leadership‖ made up of veteran opposition leaders, communists, ANM, and Baathists emerged, including people close to Shukeiri and the PLO. Its announcement of a ―people‘s convention to discuss core issues The situation along the Israeli-Jordanian demarcation line became especially tense again in April 1966. Israel complained of a string of incursions from Jordan which had increased insecurity on its side. On the night of 29 April IDF units entered two villages and, after having evacuated the inhabitants, blew up fourteen houses, allegedly used by the fedayeen. Both sides issued conflicting reports of casualties but the attacks continued anyway (Khouri 1966: 450). 288

In Nablus riots that targeted government buildings led the army to use their weapons. The next day three demonstrators were killed in clashes with security forces (Shemesh 2002: 154). A few days later, on 25 November, a Friday, it was Jerusalem‘s turn to experience serious troubles. As people took the streets of the Old City after the religious service, a shootout at the Nablus Gate caused new riots and fires in the streets (Shemesh 2002: 155). 289

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regarding the Homeland‖ was signed, among others, by Jordanian Members of Parliament, senators and members of the Nablus and Jerusalem municipalities (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 87). According to Shemesh it was the first time that ―a nationalist organization established from both banks of the Jordan comprised of representatives from all of the public institutions and political parties on the West Bank‖ (Shemesh 2002: 157). The demands of the National Leadership reflected an Arab nationalist position as championed by Nasser and the Baathist regimes in Syria and Iraq. Yet, in substance they were in large parts distinctively Palestinian. In the announcement of the Convention, the demand to militarize the West Bank had featured prominently. Besides calls for stronger involvement of the UAC in defense of the West Bank and for Jordan to join the Egyptian-Syrian defense pact, one could also find the request for full cooperation with the PLO and for the right of both the PLO and the fedayeen to freely operate in Jordan (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 87). 290 The Convention‘s manifesto went even further.291 Stressing that ―armed struggle‖ was ―the only path to destroy the Zionist-Imperialist base,‖ it called the PLO ―the only representative of the Palestinian people‘s will‖ and demanded that the Jordanian government grant it ―the necessary freedom to execute its military, economic, and organizational plans, and mobilize the Palestinian people …‖ (quoted in Shemesh 2008: 88). The fedayeen were recognized as an important part of the liberation struggle and Arab states were asked not to interfere with its activities. Although all this remained within the ideological framework of revolutionary Arab nationalism, the demands signaled that the peculiarity of Palestinian experience resulted in a separate set of interests. For Shemesh, the manifesto was ―the climax of the Palestinization and radicalization of the West Bank population since the establishment of the PLO and the beginning of Shuqayri‘s activity‖ (2008: 88). It emboldened Shukeiri to enter into confrontation with King Hussein. He repeatedly called upon the palace ―to cooperate with the PLO in the defence of Jordan against Israel‖ only to announce later that the PLA would enter Jordan, regardless of the King‘s consent (Hamid 1975: 97). The PLO began to assert its role as representative of the Palestinians and to promote the idea of the Palestinians as vanguard of revolutionary Arab nationalism. The challenge it posed to the Hashemite monarchy was now open for everyone to see. The The detailed demands were the following: the arming of border villagers and reinforcement of the front lines in accordance with UAC military experts, the organization of popular resistance according to UAC recommendations, compulsory conscription, the deployment of Arab military units in Jordan and Jordan‘s membership in the Egyptian-Syrian defense pact, full cooperation with the PLO and permission to operate independently inside Jordan, free rein for Palestinian fedayeen, and allowing the people freedom of discussion regarding their future (quoted Shemesh 2008: 87) 290

The convention itself never took place. Scheduled for December and with more than 150 representatives from both Banks invited, the security forces intervened and the convention was declared illegal. The manifesto was nonetheless circulated as poster (Shemesh 2008: 88). 291

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protests triggered by the armed provocations of the fedayeen allowed the PLO to build a constituency among Palestinians thus increasing its leverage over the palace. Although the East Bank had remained calm during the unrest, the fedayeen actions had driven a wedge between the King and his Palestinian subjects. The events in the wake of the Samu raid led to a ―growing identification of the Palestinian population in the West Bank with the PLO and their increasing resentment at the Jordanian regime‘s position regarding armed Palestinian action and the PLO‖ (Taraki 1990: 55). For the first time, Fatah‘s strategy to provoke Israel had afforded an opportunity to mobilize Palestinians. This was somewhat of a paradox since the struggle against Zionism demanded Arab unity, but Hussein‘s anxiety to maintain his legitimacy had made him into their foremost enemy. As Sayigh is right to remark, ―Although Israel was seen as the ultimate threat, Palestinian action was as much aimed at the Jordanian authorities‖ (1991: 628). The security crackdown in the aftermath of the November unrest targeting PLO officials as well as Fatah and ANM activists further soured the relations with the palace. The escalation of violence undercut Hussein‘s credentials as an Arab leader and, as a consequence, the allegiance of the Palestinians to the Hashemites began to wane. Indeed, the tremors of the West Bank conflagration were strongly felt in Amman.

2) THE 1967 WAR & ARAFAT’S POPULAR WAR OF LIBERATION The outcome of the 1967 war seemed to confirm Fatah‘s insistence on the necessity of a popular armed struggle waged by the Palestinians on their own terms. The war, according to one Palestinian magazine, was ―evidence of failure, slackness and conspiracy, the setback was a new proof of the error of keeping the Palestinian people in particular, and the Arab people in general, remote from the field of battle‖ (quoted in Rubin 1994: 13). Even before the ceasefire Fatah decided to gear up their military activities against Israel and sought help from Arab governments (Cobban 1984: 37). As to Arafat, he went to the West Bank in order to explore the potential for a popular uprising. Convinced of its feasibility he attempted to launch the popular war of liberation he had thought of for several years, but it veered into disaster. Roughly three months after its beginning in August 1967, the fledgling insurrection had been crushed by the Israeli security forces. For the next two decades the center of the struggle moved beyond Palestine‘s boundaries – it would return to the OTs in 1987 only. To begin with, the idea of launching a guerrilla war in the aftermath of the 1967 War was not without a point. Before June, Israel‘s demography had hardly been conducive for a guerrilla war. Now, with the West Bank and

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the Gaza Strip under Israeli occupation, it was a promising terrain for such an undertaking: ―The one million Palestinians under Israeli occupation would be the revolutionary sea in which Mao‘s fish – in this case Palestinian guerrillas – would swim. On the West Bank and in Gaza the oppressed Palestinian masses would give aid and shelter to their fighters in the short term, and in the long term, they would rise up against the Israelis. That was the theory‖ (Hart 1998: 236). The West Bank recommended itself for its better accessibility, Jordan‘s political weakness, and its demographic makeup.292 Despite the shock over the renewed defeat, Arafat wanted to resume military activities as soon as possible. In the second week of June a meeting took place in Damascus where his plan met with objections (Sayigh 1992: 245). As Khalad Hassan, one of Fatah‘s strategic masterminds, argued: ―If it was to have a chance of succeeding, the Palestinian masses in the newly occupied territories would have to be organized and educated in the revolutionary way‖ (quoted in Hart 1998: 236). By all accounts, the population was not ready yet. But Arafat seconded by Khalil al-Wazir managed to convince his brothers in arms and went on a reconnaissance mission. Upon return in July, Arafat presented his colleagues with an optimistic assessment of the situation in the West Bank, and, despite some urging restraint, the start of the operations was scheduled for late August (Cobban 1984: 37). There were good reasons to act. The specter of a deal in which Israel would trade the West Bank against peace with Jordan or, even worse, return all the territories occupied in June for a comprehensive Israeli-Arab peace, weighted in Arafat‘s favor (Sayigh 1992: 246).293 The fedayeen had to pre-empt such a scenario at all costs since it threatened to marginalize them politically and mute the Palestinianism that was slowly gaining ground. ―Fatah considered that it had struck a responsive chord with its people before 1967, but that it now needed to draw them into active participation‖ (Sayigh 1992: 246). Mobilizing the West Bank population was an overwhelming challenge for a group as small as Fatah with little organizational infrastructure in the OTs. The answer lay in the likely effect a guerrilla would have on the population. Apprehensions over Israeli reprisals were ignored because the expected boost in morale and the benefits for popular mobilization were thought to be worth the risk (Sayigh 1992: 245-6). Fatah, in short, hoped to create ―a situation in which we could say that we were not defeated, that we had raised the banner of All that separated the East Bank from the West Bank was the Jordan River Valley. The Gaza Strip was accessible by land through the Sinai desert only and Egypt did not want fedayeen activity from territory under its control. What is more, the presence of Iraqi troops in Jordan supportive of Fatah allowed the latter to bring in their men. The fedayeen recruits would enter Jordan disguised as Iraqi soldiers (see Cobban 1984, Frangi 1983). 292

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This was based on information Arafat had received from Jordan intelligence (Hart 1998: 238-9).

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struggle and that it was as a result of our actions that the Israelis had been forced to withdraw‖ (Salah Khalaf [Abu Iyad], quoted in Hart 1998: 240).294 Arafat went to Nablus to set up his headquarters in the City‘s Old Quarters. The goal was to establish networks throughout the West Bank. Operatives were infiltrated through Jordan (Cobban 1984: 37). Beside veterans of the early raids, there were many newly trained volunteers, about half of them students returning from Europe.295 Among them were many native West Bankers recruited in the vain hope that they would find it easier to gain support from the local population (Frangi 1983: 98). 296 They were supposed to provide locals with rudimentary military training and organize passive resistance against the occupation. In late August, the pace of guerrilla attacks picked up as planned. According to Sayigh, they consisted ―largely of mine laying and planting explosive charges, although hand grenades and firearms were also used, as were light mortars later in the year‖ (1992: 250). Their intensity and impact was however ―extremely modest‖ and Arafat‘s idea of a popular struggle never got off the ground (Sayigh 1992: 250). The Israelis reacted by deploying a counterinsurgency strategy that proved effective. House-to-house searches and blanket curfews on villages or neighborhoods suspected of harboring fedayeen punished the population collectively. Houses of suspected activists or sympathizers were demolished and activists deported (Sayigh 1992: 251).297 During the fall, cell after cell was rounded up and the network of activists in the West Bank was dismantled. 298 Chased out of urban areas and villages, the fedayeen had to hide in the countryside

Hart argues that the decision to launch the ―popular war of liberation‖ was devoid of any long term strategy. Arafat simply was keen to pick a fight since he wanted ―to keep the idea of struggle alive‖ (1998: 246). For the others it was a tactical move imposed on them by the specter of an Arab-Israeli peace deal. Hart‘s counterfactual conclusion: ―If there had been no prospect of, or serious talk about, an Israeli withdrawal, Fatah‘s leaders would not have supported Arafat‘s call for a resumption of military action‖ (1998: 247). 294

The resumption of armed struggle found vocal support among the Palestinian student organizations in Western Europe. About 450 students went to Algeria to receive training. Later, they were joined by 50 from Cairo (Hart 1998: 237). Also, about 500 recruits from the OTs were trained in Syria under supervision of Arafat and al-Wazir (Hart 1998: 241-3). Their weapons came from among the equipment left behind by the Syrian army in the June War – heavy armory was returned to the Syrians, small weapons kept by Fatah. 295

It did not work out. As the leader of the West German student union, Said Hani, remembered: ―My own idea was really a very simple one. Most of the students who were completing their elementary military training in Algiers were from the West Bank. The plan was for them to return to their homes and to appear to be living normal lives. Because they would be covered and protected by their families and friends, I assumed it would not be so easy for Israeli security agents to track them down … but I was wrong‖ (quoted in Hart 1998: 238). 296

The measures taken included the deportation of notables, refusing re-entry to young male refugees, imposition of blanket curfews, banning movement without special travel passes, the displacement of thousands toward Jordan, and villages razed to the ground as collective punishment (Sayigh 1992: 251-2). 297

The Israeli security forces were aided in their task by Jordanian intelligence files on the West Bank opposition they had found in East Jerusalem. Also, Israel seems to have been in possession of detailed information on the students recruited in Western Europe, notably those from Germany. In addition to the cooperation of Western intelligence agencies the open 298

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where they became an easy prey for the Israeli security forces (Cobban 1984: 38). By the end of December, it was all over.299 By now, more than 1 000 fedayeen were detained. Hundreds had perished. Arafat himself nearly avoided arrest and had to leave the West Bank. Adding insult to injury ―a majority of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation were glad to see the back of those who had claimed to be their liberators‖ (Hart 1998: 245). Why had things gone so terribly wrong? Arafat failed because his insurgency desperately lacked popular support – not because of military inferiority. Earlier warnings from within Fatah‘s ruling circle had been proven right. ―In retrospect,‖ Cobban remarks, ―it seems easy to say that Arafat‘s idea of embarking on the popular liberation war in the West Bank in 1967 was premature, that the necessary preparations for this arduous task had not been made before he started‖ (1984: 38). In fact, the nature of the Israeli repression in the fall of 1967, indiscriminately targeting the Palestinian population, had everything to stir people‘s anger. Yet, the IDF managed to keep the situation under control save for a few incidences in and around the camps housing refugees. A good dose of pragmatism may account for the passivity of many West Bankers. But more than that, it was the lack of an appropriate focus for collective action which prevented a broad-based movement in opposition to the occupation. Arab nationalism had been dealt a fatal blow, and Fatah‘s Palestinianism had not yet taken roots, especially among the West Bank elites. It did not offer a distinct political perspective yet. The idea of a popular liberation war lacked legitimacy. In the absence of a common political identity as a Palestinian people and with the Arab world reeling from its fresh defeat, the diverging interests within those nominally Palestinians prevailed. Whereas Fatah was an organization of refugees who had little to lose in their quest to return, West Bankers had stayed in their homes and were anxious not to meet the same fate as those now abroad and in the camps. In addition, the Israeli occupation had left the traditional social structures with their hierarchical and family-based order almost untouched and allowed Amman to play a role in West Bank affairs. In the immediate future the options were either remaining under occupation or returning to Jordanian rule. In 1956 Israel had withdrawn from the Gaza Strip after having occupied it so there were reasons to believe that an arrangement was likely whereby Jordan would recover the West Bank which was de jure under its

and democratic organization of the student unions might have helped Mossad to gather relevant information (see Frangi 1983). In late September alone, the IDF captured 180 guerrillas and their supporters in the northern West Bank. 24 more were seized in mid-October, 70 in November and 20 in December (Sayigh 1992: 251). 299

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sovereignty (compared to Gaza which had not been annexed by Egypt). A guerrilla war endangered this scenario and, accordingly, there were notables ready to collaborate ―with the Israelis in rooting out the destabilising elements they still considered to be outsiders‖ (Cobban 1984: 39). Even those fedayeen who were West Bank natives, more often than not, were perceived as irresponsible troublemakers. If Arafat had thought about transforming the West Bank into a bridgehead for an assault on Israel then, given the circumstances, this was illusory. The ambiguities surrounding Arafat‘s undertaking made a success highly unlikely anyway. The protest movement in 1966 had shown that the pro-Hashemite consensus was not cemented. Palestinians had become a threat to the monarchy. But Israel‘s victory and the dismal showing of the much-vaunted PLA had also hurt the PLO and offset its earlier gains. Fatah‘s Palestinianism was weakly developed in comparison to the suggestive power and tenacity of the message of revolutionary Arab nationalism. Sahliyeh points out that, for the time being, ―no political group espoused the formation of a Palestine state in the West Bank, nor did any party work to promote a separate and distinct national identity for Palestinians‖ (1988: 18). The few attempts at political organization in the West Bank under the occupation were Arab nationalist or religious in nature and lacked a mass basis.300 Taking stock of the failed insurgency in 1967, Sayigh states that ―For a brief moment in 1967, the Palestinian guerrillas were embarked on a ‗project‘ of far-reaching ambition: to situate their national struggle squarely on Palestinian soil and, thus, lay the basis for autonomous action, free from Arab control‖ (1992: 265). Arafat‘s rout made Fatah, and the fedayeen movement more generally, lose its foothold in Palestine. They retreated to the Arab front states – with dramatic consequences. Palestinian politics increasingly became centered on the exile communities dominated by refugees, to the detriment of the interest of those in the OTs. As a result, the idea of an Arab mobilization against Zionism grew stronger, to the point of threatening the already precarious political stability of Jordan and Lebanon. In the years to come the fedayeen became more and more entangled in Arab politics, first clashing with Hussein and then playing a major role in the Lebanese civil war all while being constantly pressured by Syria to make its bidding. Yet, for all the hardship Palestinians had to endure this strengthened their sense of being different from their Arab brethren. Paradoxically the more the fedayeen held on to the myth of Arab unity the more Fatah‘s Palestinianism made Palestinians conscious of their difference. The political initiatives that sprung up in the occupied West Bank testify to that. Writes Taraki: ―No substantial massbased political initiative emerged in the first years of the occupation, although the process of forming national frameworks to resist the occupation began in this period‖ (1990: 57). The few organizations formed after June 1967 called for a return to the status quo ante that is, the reestablishment of Egyptian or Jordanian administration. 300

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3) THE BATTLE OF KARAMEH 1968 The attempt of the fall of 1967 to mobilize the population in the West Bank had failed. Only a few months later, the fedayeen re-emerged on a wave of Arab nationalist euphoria. What became known as the Battle of Karameh was a public relations success that made the fedayeen famous in the Arab world and triggered a massive mobilization among Palestinians in Jordan and the diaspora. It provided Fatah with the leverage to take control over the PLO and sideline the fledgling PFLP, its main contender that had sprung from the now defunct ANM. The narration of the battle would provide the ―foundation myth‖ for the Palestinian armed struggle and help define the frame for its public representation (Khalidi 1997: 196). Most importantly however, Karameh was a ―pivotal event in the emergence of a new Palestinian political identity‖ (Terrill 2001: 91). On 21 March 1968, close to 15 000 Israeli troops (sic) supported by the air force crossed the Jordan River. Their target was the vacated village of Karameh on the East Bank where the fedayeen had relocated. The operation was prompted by a mine that had exploded a school bus in the Jordan valley killing two teachers and wounding several pupils (Terrill 2001: 95). Reminiscent of the events of November 1966, the Israelis struck back with a vengeance. The raid aimed at rooting out the fedayeen presence was codenamed ―Operation Inferno‖ – in itself revelatory of their intentions (Terrill 2001: 96). On the Palestinian side, this massive Israeli force was opposed by no more than 300 fedayeen. Unexpectedly, the Israeli expeditionary force ran into difficulties. The guerrillas were tenacious adversaries. Crucial in fending off the Israeli attack, however, was the support they received from the Jordanians. Jordan‘s First Infantry Division which had been reinforced by other Jordanian units sent into the Karameh area prior to the battle proved to be a match for the assailants (Terrill 2001: 97).301 In the early afternoon the Israeli forces, not ready to occupy and hold Jordanian territory on the East Bank, retreated without having succeeded in their task. The battle had been particularly costly for the fedayeen. The Israelis had destroyed their base and 120 guerrillas were dead, the remaining ones captured or forced to withdraw (Terrill 2001: 97). The Israeli army had incurred more than twenty fatalities but left no bodies or prisoners behind (Cobban 1984: 42). Although technically a defeat, the Battle of Karameh was presented as a victory. As the Israelis crossed back over the Jordan, the fedayeen were still there. Taken at face value, they had successfully stood up to the mighty enemy. Immediately the Arab media ―picked up this theme, which found a ready response in an Arab world still reeling from the unexpected defeat of June 1967‖ (Khalidi 1997: 197). Terrill assumes that the Israelis expected ―the Jordanians to limit their military response because of political differences and rivalry between the monarchy and the Palestinian guerrillas‖ (2001: 96-7). Certainly, the Jordanian army was not the principal objective of the strike. 301

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Karameh or karaama, by a lucky coincidence, also means pride or dignity in Arabic. This helped to underscore the symbolic dimension of their feat. The fedayeen had bravely faced up to the Israelis and against greatest odds had held their ground, something three regular Arab armies had not been able to do. This favorable interpretation of the events would revive the idea of the Palestinians as the vanguard of the Arab struggle against Zionism. Sari Nusseibeh, an outstanding Palestinian intellectual, PLO activist, and long-time doyen of al-Quds University, remembers that he found Karameh to be ―our Stalingrad‖ (2007: 105). Two days after the battle, vehicles and weapons abandoned by the retreating Israeli forces were placed on display in one of Amman‘s squares where citizens streamed in to see them. People were jubilating and Hussein was photographed standing on a captured tank declaring ―We shall all be fedayeen soon!‖ (quoted in Cobban 1984: 48). The fact that it was only due to the intervention of Jordanian artillery that the fedayeen had not been crushed was conspicuously played down. The public was to retain the image of the brave Palestinian fedayeen ready to sacrifice herself for the national cause – embodied, above all, by Arafat. 302 Once again he had gambled but this time he went away with a sweeping victory. Although sold as an Arab victory, it was among Palestinians that Karameh resonated most strongly. The reaction was as massive as it was unexpected. The battle galvanized not only those in Jordan but also Palestinians abroad. The refugees, in particular, were craving for hope, an uplifting of their spirit. Terrill, who assumes such a psychological need, finds that the ―political myth‖ surrounding the battle ―started to occur immediately after the battle and was almost totally spontaneous‖ (2001: 102). Within a few months the refugee camps in and around Amman and Jerash in the north turned into recruitment bases for the fedayeen and became militant strongholds.303 Khalil al-Wazir remembers: The day after the battle, and for the next three days from seven o‘clock in the morning until nine o‘clock in the evening, I sat under a tree in Salt. I had only my notebooks and some pencils. My job was to take the names and addresses of the thousands of volunteers who came to join Fatah. In those three days we received close to 5,000! Over the course of the next eighteen months or so, a further 25,000 volunteers joined Fatah to fight (quoted in Hart 1998: 265). The Palestinian diaspora was also activated and became involved in the struggle. Donations from across the Arab world were reaching the fedayeen (Hart 1998: 266).304 In fact, the Jordanians had been tipped off on the upcoming operation and recommended the fedayeen to withdraw, but Arafat decided to stay put and prepare the defense (Terrill 2001: 96). 302

Fatah and the PFLP were strong in the camps of Wahadat, Baqaa, Sulh, Al-Husn, Jerash, Zizia, and other camps in the north of Jordan. In the south of the country they maintained bases on the town outskirts of Tufilah, Shubaq, and Karak (Fruchter-Ronen 2008: 247). 303

Another effect of Karameh was that for the Arab regimes in the region the popularity and support the Palestinian fedayeen now enjoyed made it difficult if not politically impossible to suppress them (Terrill 2001: 102). The symbolic 304

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Fatah and the smaller fedayeen factions were now in the position to establish firmer structures in the refugee camps in Jordan, Syria, and Lebanon. Popular militias were set up and political cadres trained and educated. The introduction of military recruitment, social welfare systems, and mass organizations politicized significant sectors of the Palestinian refugee population and legitimized the fedayeen (Taraki 1990: 56). Hart perceives here ―a revival of Palestinian culture‖ but it was more than that; it was the emergence of Palestinians as a distinct political community (1998: 266). What is more, Karameh allowed Fatah to prevail over its contenders for Palestinian leadership and made Arafat the figurehead of the Palestinian struggle. The battle of Karameh had tarnished the PFLP‘s reputation. Upon notice of an imminent attack, Habash‘s men had withdrawn from Karameh while Arafat had stayed. Although in accordance with guerrilla doctrine, the move to avoid the battle was ―to cost the PFLP dearly in terms of grass-roots and official Arab support‖ (Sayigh 1992: 264). The subsequent splits further weakened the leftist fedayeen factions. Arafat‘s standing was such that when the fedayeen took over the PLO in the spring of 1968 Fatah was in the lead, and, before long, Arafat advanced to the position of PLO‘s chairman. While relegated to a ―permanent second place after Fatah in Palestinian politics,‖ the leftists would nonetheless wield a decisive influence on the events to come (Sayigh 1992: 264). The achievements made possible by Karameh had a downside. The relocation of the center of Palestinian politics to the front states meant that the struggle became more and more disconnected from the OTs, not to talk about the Arab population in Israel proper. In spite of the unseen flurry of Palestinian activism, those on the other side of the Jordan stayed put. Kimmerling and Migdal report that following ―the fall of the West Bank underground [in 1967], few organized guerrilla activities originated there except for sporadic hit-and-run attacks‖ (1994: 241). The Gaza Strip remained volatile but even there armed resistance eventually petered out.305 The effectiveness of Israeli counterinsurgency was underwritten by efforts to ―counter-organize‖ the population. Essential services that had been disrupted were swiftly restored and local administration left in the hands of notables. Partial integration into Israel‘s economy and the preservation of close relations with the East Bank power of the Battle of Karameh also opened the purses in the wealthy Gulf States. Arafat‘s ―requests for funds were often taken quite seriously, and he was quick to praise his donors and publicly vouch for their solidarity with the Palestinian cause‖ (Terrill 2001: 102). According to Taraki, ―Substantial quantities of light weapons from the Egyptian army and the Palestine Liberation Army remained there… A civil disobedience campaign of demonstrations, strikes, and the boycott of Israeli products was also launched‖ (1990: 56). By the end of 1971 the Israeli security forces had come to terms with the unrest. More than 150 000 refugees had been resettled and hundreds of alleged guerrillas killed or deported (Kimmerling and Migdal 1994: 241). 305

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meant that the economic situation in the West Bank soon was better than under Jordanian rule. As long as they refrained from political activism, West Bankers were allowed to live as normal as possible under occupation. The overall goal of Israel‘s policy was to ―restore normal life patterns‖ in order to ―increase the people‘s stake in tranquillity‖ (O‘Neill 1991: 47). Indeed, until the events of September 1970 damaged Hussein‘s reputation in the eyes of many Palestinians, they wished to see Amman recovering the West Bank – and even afterwards some would find it difficult to turn their backs on Amman.306 In Israel proper the situation was not much different. The authorities were anxious not to antagonize its Arab population. Although Palestinians were legally discriminated against and would stay citizens of second class, unlawful action against them was not permitted. A telling example in that regard is related by Bard O‘Neill. On 4 September 1968 a bomb exploded at Tel Aviv bus station. The deflagrations left one dead and 51 wounded. In reaction ―a Jewish mob attacked Arabs in the terminal, beating eight severely, and turned on Arabs arriving in busses‖ (O‘Neill 1991: 48). The next day the Israeli newspaper Haaretz accused the assailants of being ―active, unwilling allies of the Arab terrorists‖ (quoted in O‘Neill 1991: 48). It was understood that such bombings were meant to create incidences that would alienate Arabs. In the aftermath of the riots, Israeli officials actively sought to prevent the repetition of such an event. All was done to avoid the impression that Israel‘s Arab population was victimized and physically abused. In sum, the Battle of Karameh was ―a case of failure against overwhelming odds brilliantly narrated as heroic triumph‖ (Khalidi 1997: 197). It was a great success for Arafat and his Fatah. Riding on a wave of euphoria he managed to sideline his opponents within and gained control over the PLO. Fatah‘s Palestinianism took concrete forms but for the price of losing the Palestinians ―inside‖. From the theoretical perspective I am taking here, the effect of Karameh is somewhat surprising since those who mobilized were not immediately implicated in the confrontation. Karameh, above all, was a symbol. It was evocative rather than coercive and worked as a catalyst for sufferings incurred before. The fact that the mobilizational effect was far more pronounced among Palestinians than among Arabs in general is indicative in that regard (see Chaliand 1972). In any case, for the fedayeen the success of Karameh was to boomerang. Their sudden ascent to prominence and power soured the political climate in Jordan and Lebanon. Trouble was around the corner.

As Bailey wrote in the late 1970s: ―so long as Israel continues to govern the West Bank, most residents would not want to sever their connection with Amman. To all West Bankers, Jordan is the lifeline to the Arab world‖ (1978: 156). For instance, in September 1970, ―a meeting of West Bank leaders rejected a proposal by the erstwhile mayor of Nablus, Hamdi Kan‘an, to condemn and sever all relations‖ with the Hashemites (Bailey 1978: 157). 306

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4) BLACK SEPTEMBER & THE JORDANIAN CIVIL WAR The fedayeen were victims of their own success. The euphoria in the wake of Karameh swelled their ranks and led to the explosive growth of the fedayeen movement in Jordan. Having lost their foothold in Palestine, fedayeen factions to the left of Fatah saw it as a confirmation that Arab popular mobilization was the only way to liberate Palestine. The first obstacle to be removed to that end was the Jordanian monarchy. Adopting Fatah strategy of armed provocation they began to challenge the King. Fatah now in charge of the PLO opposed this move. Rather than removing Hussein, Fatah hoped to control him. In the end, however, Arafat could not prevent the showdown with the palace in which the fedayeen forces were defeated. Fatah, siding with the radicals, was inevitably sucked into the whirlwinds of the escalating conflict. The question as to whether or not to side with the Palestinian renegades was never seriously raised. After all, they were all Palestinians, their ideological difference notwithstanding. If anything, it was the lack of support among those nominally Palestinians in the course of the showdown with the palace that demonstrated the inherent contradictions of Palestinianism – a people distinct yet one with the imagined Arab nation. However, the narration of the Jordanian civil war which stresses Palestinian victimization contributed to the formation of their self-understanding as a people apart.

Jordan and the Fedayeen The massive presence of Palestinians in Jordan made the country a sanctuary for the fedayeen and the door to the 1.5 million Palestinians now under Israeli occupation. The PLO, under Fatah‘s leadership, sought to preserve Jordan‘s cooperation and officially insisted on the principle of non-intervention into local politics. Yet, it could not help but care about the political situation in Jordan. The access to occupied Palestine and thus the PLO‘s political survival depended on its presence in Jordan and, more specifically, on the acquiescence of its ruler, King Hussein. Rallying the Jordanian population, Palestinian and Transjordanian alike, in the name of a single Arab nation was a safeguard against attempts by the palace to rein them in. As the self-declared vanguard of the Arab nation the fedayeen sought a maximum of autonomy from their hosts – an idea that was captured by the slogan ―freedom of movement‖. But the concern for broad-based solidarity arising from the need to limit the dependence on the monarchy opened a window of opportunity for the radical fedayeen factions. Groups like the PFLP, DFLP, Saiqa, and the Arab Liberation Front (ALF) openly advocated the removal of the Hashemite monarchy. Cobban argues that ―For all these groups, a confrontation with Hussein, … was not only desirable,

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but also ideologically necessary‖ (1984: 49).307 The idea was to channel the Palestinian mobilization caused by Karameh away from Fatah and into a revolutionary Arab nationalist direction. To that end they had recourse to armed provocations. The tried strategy of escalating violence in order to reap political benefits now got a new twist. Jordan, like Lebanon where a similar conflict was festering, was vulnerable to Palestinian activism and the message of revolutionary Arab nationalism. Palestinians made up for half of the Jordanian population and about twelve percent in Lebanon. In both countries the Palestinian question put a strain on the domestic political situation. The mounting wave of Palestinian mobilization, in the wake of Karameh, exacerbated these conflicts. Cobban cites sources claiming that, by 1970, the fedayeen had recruited and trained between 30 000 and 50 000 new fighters in Jordan alone (1984: 41). But the fedayeen remained a heterogeneous movement. Fedayeen factions proliferated as ―each and every political organisation in the Arab world (except for the staid traditionalists of the pro-Moscow Arab communist movements) sought to build up its own group, or grouplet, in the field‖ (Cobban 1984: 48). The PLO was not in a position to consolidate the movement and seemed oblivious to the consequences. Raw numbers was all that counted. The result of this continuous increase of political activity and military power was inevitably undermining the sovereignty and monopoly of violence of the host states. This could not go unanswered. Since 1968 clashes between fedayeen and security forces in Lebanon and Jordan became more frequent. In a bid to assert his role as Arab leader, King Hussein sought to appease the fedayeen. But his concessions only further undermined his rule. The revolutionary agitation threatened his legitimacy if not the Kingdom as a whole. His fears were not unfounded. The fedayeen were establishing a Palestinian state-within-a-state in Jordan. Fruchter-Ronen paints a vivid picture of the situation worth quoting at length: …members of the Organizations who were mostly residents of the refugee camps were roaming the streets and attacking soldiers and policemen. Often, there were clashes between Organization members and the security forces. In the camps they set up headquarters, recruiting offices, and propaganda departments. Their members set up control blockades on the way, blackmailed business owners, and kidnapped foreign diplomats. They set up ‗revolutionary courts‘ and sentenced to death visitors from the West Bank suspected of espionage. Their cars were marked using special identification tags and their drivers ignored army and police orders. The autonomous status these Organizations took into their hands showed itself also through the welfare and educational services they gave the Palestinian population in Jordan (2008: 247-8). The fedayeen became a burden to the state when Palestinian mobilization challenged the Hashemite monarchy notwithstanding whether it took place in the name of Fatah‘s Palestinianism or revolutionary Arab As shown above, the PFLP had its roots in the ANM while Saiqa and the ALF were sponsored by the Baathist regimes in Syria and Iraq respectively. 307

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nationalism. The sheer number of Palestinians in Jordan created a predicament for all the actors of the Jordanian drama. The Palestinian majority in Jordan was an asset for the fedayeen. It forced Hussein to be indulgent with the raucous fedayeen. Their struggle had to be his struggle as well. Indeed, in the fall of 1968, when tensions between the King and the fedayeen were already on the verge of escalating, he had hastened to assure Nasser that he did not intend to crack down on ―‘genuine strugglers‘, as distinct from the splinter groups of fedayeen who often operate on the edge of banditry‖ (New York Times 1968). Yet, bending to the will of the majority bore an implicit message that was dangerous for the monarchy since the call for majority rule meant democracy. According to a New York Times report at the time, the fedayeen had made it clear to Hussein that, since Palestinians constituted the majority in Jordan, he had to abide by their demands.308 Demands for democratization had been heard before, coming from the West Bank. When the conflict between the fedayeen and Hussein escalated in the late summer of 1970, calls for a ―democratic government of national unity‖ wholly dedicated to the support of the fedayeen even found support among the Transjordanian political elite and were explicitly endorsed by the president of the Senate and the mayors of Salt and Irbid (Carré 1980: 23). Indeed, the Palestinian leadership had all rights to contend that since Palestinians represented the majority of the Kingdom‘s population, they had to have their say in matters political. After all, ―the PLO followed King Hussein‘s logic and rhetoric when it claimed that the banks were integrated, that Palestine was Jordan and Jordan was Palestine‖ (Israeli 2003: 53). No other but Shukeiri had hinted at this years before (Cobban 1984: 30-1). Whereas such rhetoric was primarily aimed at securing support and bolstering the fedayeen‘s stand in Jordan, it risked to backfire were such ideas to materialize. The democratization of Jordan, under the given circumstances, would be tantamount to a Palestinization of Jordan. It would turn the Kingdom into a Palestinian state in all but name. From a historical perspective, this was not absurd.309 But the Palestinization of Jordan could lead the Palestinians to forfeit the legitimacy of their claims to Palestinian lands west of the Jordan. It is likely that Arafat was aware of the predicament and

The New York Times reported ―a tense and angry showdown in a two-hour meeting in Amman‘s military headquarters‖ between Hussein and the fedayeen. Hussein allegedly threatened to set the country ablaze, as a last resort. According to the Times, ―In reply, the fedayeen leaders pointedly reminded the king of their own strength. They asked: ‗What was the population of Amman in 1948?‘ Hussein: ‗35,000.‘ ‗What is it now?‘ Hussein: ‗About 400,000.‘ ‗Don‘t the Palestinians own the main buildings and businesses?‘ Hussein: ‗Yes.‘ ‗We are still able to reduce Amman to what it was in 1948‘‖ (quoted in New York Times 1968). 308

The Palestinian Mandate had covered both banks and it was only due to British legal ingenuity that the lands east and west of the Jordan Valley had been separated in an attempt to honor conflicting promises (see above). 309

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refrained from throwing the gauntlet first. Indeed, if there was a territorial issue between the PLO and Jordan, it was over the sovereignty over the West Bank which for the moment was concealed by Israel‘s occupation. 310 And, it was only in 1971, at the eighth PNC and after the rout of the fedayeen in Jordan, that the PLO would vote a resolution that refuted the distinction between both banks implying the illegitimacy of the monarchy (Israeli 2003: 53). For the PFLP and other radical splinter groups this was evident from the beginning of the confrontation with Hussein. Spearheaded by the PFLP, the fedayeen took on the Jordanian state. Jordan had to be transformed into a ―progressive‖ state from which the united Arab effort to re-conquer Palestine could be launched (Baumgarten 1991: 220-4). As the PFLP‘s political platform stated: We must not neglect the struggle in east Jordan [sic] for this land is connected with Palestine more than with the other Arab countries. The problem of the revolution in Palestine is dialectically connected with the problem of the revolution in Jordan. A chain of plots between the Jordanian monarchy, imperialism and Zionism have proved this connection. … Amman can become an Arab Hanoi: – a base for the revolutionaries fighting inside Palestine ([1969] 1985, emphasis in the original). The only way to achieve this was to topple the monarchy and transform its political system making it a socalled revolutionary entity. If this was to make Jordan a Palestinian state, so be it. The Arab revolution would continue anyway. In 1975 the North Vietnamese victory revived the dream of turning Amman into an Arab Hanoi. But as an article in Shu‟un Filastiniyya cautioned: We ought not [to]… fall into the trap of the Israelis who claim that Jordan is the homeland of the Palestinians where they can establish their state. … But Palestinian Transjordan can only be the first step towards Greater Palestine, insofar that it will be a base for our expansion west of the River [Jordan] (quoted in Israeli 2003: 52). Here the fundamental ambiguity at the heart of the struggle to liberate Palestine is evident. In whose name the struggle was to be waged? When the leftist faction escalated the conflict with King Hussein in the name of the Arab revolution, they essentially raised the question of Jordan‘s political identity. It was a Palestinian nationalist challenge to the monarchy in all but name, and Fatah did not hesitate to throw its lot with the renegades, although it was clear that they had gone too far.

The Civil War The summer of 1970 had been marked by repeated clashes between fedayeen and the Jordanian police and army. The Rogers Plan was anathema to the fedayeen and they wanted to forestall diplomatic progress along the lines of Resolution 242. Ceasefires were negotiated by the Arab League but were violated anytime soon.

310

Note that the PLO logo only shows Palestine west of the Jordan.

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Things soured in early September when Hussein‘s motorcade en route to Amman‘s airport came under fire by undisclosed assailants. In response Bedouin units of the Jordanian army shelled refugee camps in Amman. The strong support for the fedayeen among the refugee population, on the one hand, and the rallying of Bedouins behind Hussein, on the other, was to foreshadow the civil war (see Abu-Odeh 1999: 177). The ultimate assault on the King‘s sovereignty occurred on 6 September: three international airliners were hijacked by PFLP commandos and rerouted to Dawson‘s airfield a desert airstrip near Zarqa, to the east of Amman. With the seizure of 400 passengers from Switzerland, Germany, Great Britain, France, the USA, and Israel, the fedayeen‘s armed struggle gained an international dimension. Indulging in coercive pedagogy Habash declared that the hostages were to live for a few days the experience the Palestinian refugees had been enduring for twenty-two years (Carré 1980: 20). In a clear sign of disdain for Jordan‘s sovereignty, the negotiations over the fate of the hostages with their respective national governments took place without the Jordanian authorities having a say. The airfield where the airplanes had been parked was declared a ―liberated zone‖ and renamed ―Revolution Airstrip‖, all hostages received Palestinian visa on their passports – the first Palestinian visa ever issued (Cobban 1984: 48; Carré 1980: 21). The planes were eventually blown up, but the hostages were left unharmed.311 The fedayeen had once again shown their cunning. It was a public relations bonanza. Recalls Olivier Carré: ―Dans la logique du FPLP, le coup était splendide. Le symbolisme était criant, et les images entrèrent dans les maisons de tout un chacun à travers le monde grâce à la télévision‖ (1980: 21). Their insolence amazed the Arab world and left the West stunned, but symbolism was all there was (Carré 1980: 34).312 But what was more important than the effect on a world-wide audience, the hostage crisis caused a huge embarrassment to Hussein. Signs of defiance against the palace were ubiquitous. The Wahadat refugee camp near Amman was labeled ―Republic of Palestine‖ and a Palestinian flag hissed over its entrance. After the end of the hijacking drama more ―liberated zones‖ were established in Irbid, Salt, and Jerash starting 14 September. Few days later the fedayeen announced the nomination of governors for these areas (Carré 1980: 28). Meanwhile in Amman, fedayeen forces took control over public infrastructures, including the central post office and the main power plant (Carré 1980: 23). These moves did not receive the unanimous approval of all fedayeen factions. Arafat signaled his misgivings about the escalatory strategy of the radicals and made the PLO suspend the

Most hostages were released or exchanged against Palestinian militants jailed in Europe on 12 September. The remaining 54 hostages, those holding Israeli citizenship, were liberated on 29 September in Amman (Carré 1980: 22). 311

The internationalization, so to say, of the Palestinian struggle accorded with the PFLP‘s ideology but was certainly meant to regain ground lost to Fatah because of Karameh. 312

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membership of the PFLP – a decision rescinded four days later, on 16 September, when the situation exploded. 313 Anxious not to alienate the Palestinian majority, King Hussein had repeatedly yielded to the demands of the fedayeen. In an accord signed on 10 July both sides had agreed to a deal under which the fedayeen forces as well as the Jordanian army pledged to evacuate Amman. Yet, the fedayeen had not moved out of the refugee camps and kept control of certain neighborhoods of Amman and of other Jordanian cities (Carré 1980: 62). This ceasefire, like subsequent ones in early September, did not hold. Although the fedayeen had been granted powers equaling those of the Jordanian government, they were not ready to compromise (Carré 1980: 62). The development in early September left Hussein with no other option than to retaliate. On 15 September, with security rapidly deteriorating in the country, King Hussein appointed a military government under Muhammad Daoud, a former army general of Palestinian origin. The new government immediately declared the strict application of martial law and the army began removing the guerrillas from their strongholds. An intervention of Syrian ground forces on behalf of the fedayeen, launched on 19 September, might have turned the table on Hussein but eventually faltered because of lack of air support. In less than a week, the Jordanian Armed Forces managed to stop the Syrian advance, pushed the fedayeen out of most urban areas, and retook control of the camps (Sayigh 1997: 265).314 Another ultimatum to the fedayeen to abide by the agreements and surrender their weapons was ignored. The fighting went on. Thousands would perish, many of them civilians, their homes reduced to rubble. On 27 September, at a summit of Arab heads of state in Cairo, Hussein, short of allies because of his move against the fedayeen, was forced to sign another cease fire agreement with Arafat, this time brokered by Nasser. Its wording appeared to be in favor of the fedayeen, yet it contained a pledge by the Arab states not to interfere in the Kingdom‘s domestic affairs. This effectively gave the King carte blanche to finish off the fedayeen (Carré 1980: 30). Over the next months the war continued in the Jordanian countryside. The remaining fedayeen detachments redeployed to the north and retrenched themselves in a hilly wooded area

Arafat‘s position was rife with ambiguity: following an army offensive in the south and the shelling of Amman and Zarqa on 8 September, Fatah‘s revolutionary council decided in an emergency meeting to call for the overthrow of the government (Sayigh 1997: 260). 313

In fact, these were PLA units and armored units of the Syrian army ―disguised‖ as PLA (Ashton 2006: 107). They crossed the border on 18 September. The operation veered into disaster when Hafez al-Assad, then-commander of the Syrian Air Force, refrained from providing air support. This allowed the Jordanian Air Force to bring the intervention to a halt (shortly after al-Assad would stage a coup in Damascus that would bring him into power). Iraq, with a presence of 17 000 in the country did not move. 314

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between Jerash and Ajloun. Beginning 1971, about 5 000 fedayeen were still at large. The final assault by the Jordanian security forces was launched on 13 July. During the operation most of the remaining fedayeen were captured – the others were killed or fled, fearing the wrath of the Bedouin forces, to Israel (Cobban 1984: 52; Carré 1980: 95). For the fedayeen the long-term consequences of their defeat were dire. For the next twelve years the PLO would have no presence in Jordan. Relations between the King and the fedayeen were damaged beyond repair. The hope for an external intervention coming to their rescue had been misplaced. Neither Damascus nor Baghdad was ready to commit itself to a conflict. The Jordanian drama had attracted the interest of the superpowers which complicated the strategic calculus.315 Although Arab statesmen were all too ready to vilify Hussein because of the crackdown on the fedayeen, their words were not followed by action. The Arab states had not been able to agree on a common position. Once again, revolutionary Arab nationalism had revealed itself to be a myth. The fedayeen had to realize that Arab states were in effect no less hostile to Palestinianism than Israel (Carré 1980: 117). At the same time, the fedayeen had to acknowledge that many Palestinians in Jordan had not actively taken sides in the clash. This was disheartening especially since about half of the rank and file of the Jordanian army was nominally Palestinian (Cobban 1984: 49-50). As the conflict escalated, the great majority of them had remained loyal to the King.316 Indeed, the political division during the civil war blurred ethnic boundaries. Whereas most Palestinians had preferred to sit on the fence, not a few Transjordanians had joined the ranks of the fedayeen as the fighting broke out (Fruchter-Ronen 2008: 250). After all, this was not surprising since ideologically the struggle was waged in the name of an Arab revolution and against the conservatism of the Hashemite monarchy – not in the name of Palestinian nationalism. Still, the narrative of ―Black September‖, as the events in the fall of 1970 came later to be referred to, would subsequently depict the strife as one between the Palestinian people and the Royal Guard composed of fiery Bedouins (Carré 1980: 25).

315

The US asked the Soviets to call off their Syrian client while the Israeli army was put on alert (Sayigh 1997: 265).

Sayigh speaks of somewhere between 5 000 and 7 000 desertions, ―including a division commander and several brigade and battalion commanders‖ (1997: 267). Most of them were of Palestinian origin but others were Transjordanians. It is important to note that those in the Jordanian army who sided with the fedayeen were mainly men of West Bank origin (later regrouped by Fatah in the Yarmouk Brigade) (Cobban 1984: 50). In any case, it seems that Hussein, conscious of the risks, had taken precautions. The servicemen in armored units and manning the artillery were recruited by tribal chiefs loyal to the King whereas Palestinians were found mainly in infantry units under Muhammad Daoud‘s command (Carré 1980: 25) 316

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Black September stood not so much for another defeat of revolutionary Arab nationalism but for the victimization of Palestinians. When the conflict escalated in late September, almost instantly, rumors of a genocide committed against the Palestinians emerged in the media (Carré 1980: 31). On 22 September Arafat spread word of more than 20 000 dead (Carré 1980: 46). 317 Striking the same note, Nasser denounced what he termed a ―horrible massacre, contrary to all Arab and human values.‖ On 26 September, on the eve of the summit of Arab heads of state in Cairo, where the ceasefire was signed, Sudan‘s President Gafaar Nimeiry, who had led a group of mediators dispatched by the Arab League to negotiate an end to the fighting, claimed at a press conference: ―Nous quittâmes enfin Amman avec la conviction qu‘il s‘agissait d‘un plan prémédité d‘extermination de tous les hommes de l‘héroïque Résistance palestinienne et de tous les Palestiniens résidant en Jordanie‖ (quoted in Carré 1980: 46). This caused a wave of indignation in Arab public opinion and beyond. The uneasiness felt during the hostage crisis was replaced by outrage over the alleged ―slaughter‖ of innocent Palestinians at the hands of the Jordanian army (Carré 1980: 41). Although the Jordanian government claimed that its actions were aimed at enforcing the agreements rather than attempts to erase the Palestinian presence in the country, the dominant interpretative frame was that of a conflict between Transjordanians and Palestinians (Fruchter-Ronen 2008: 250; also Lynch 1999). Indeed, the civil war was a turning point because it contributed to the formation of a Transjordanian political identity exclusive of Palestinians (Sirriyeh 2000: 77). For many Palestinians, whether they had sided with the fedayeen or not, it was a similar turning point. Palestinianism became firmly entrenched. The defeat and the experience of victimization ―served to convince increasing numbers of Palestinians of the validity of the Fateh leaders‘ long standing convictions of the need to safeguard the independence of Palestinian political decision-making from reliance on any single Arab regime‖ (Cobban 1984: 53). Yet, most of those who continued to live in Jordan were to accept being ruled by the Hashemites, grudgingly or out of sheer pragmatism. The situation in the West Bank was slightly different, not least because Palestinians there were still under Israeli occupation. ―The searing experience of watching Palestinians and Jordanians fighting one another on the East Bank in 1970 began a trend toward thinking about a West Bank state…‖ (Richardson 1984: 83). Local political activism conducted autonomously from Amman picked up, and West Bankers grew more assertive. The Jordanian government found itself on the defensive. Finds Mishal: ―After the civil war in Jordan in September 1970, the Jordanian government reconciled itself to the local activities of the mayors and other West Bank dignitaries and confined itself to trying to prevent political initiatives encompassing the whole of the

The actual number of casualties is supposed to be between 3 000 and 5 000 out of which about 600 were army personnel and between 910 and 960 fedayeen. Civilian fatalities – most of them Palestinians – are estimated to lie somewhere between 1 500 and 3 000 (Sayigh 1997: 267). 317

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West Bank that were liable to influence the political future in a direction undesirable to Jordan‖ (1981: 844-5). Having secured his rule over the East Bank King, Hussein was about to lose the West Bank. The civil war had been fought about the political identity of Jordan rather than for the Arab revolution. Finding himself cornered and short of alternatives, Hussein struck back. He prevailed but lost the legitimacy to represent the Palestinians – at least those not living on the East Bank. Looking back, we can say that the events of early September 1970 destroyed whatever opportunity existed to resolve the Palestinian question within the framework of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The escalation brought about by the radical fedayeen factions, first among them the PFLP, had antagonized the parties and helped to promote Fatah‘s Palestinianism.

5) THE LEBANESE CIVIL WAR A development similar to what had happened in Jordan took place in Lebanon, only a few years later. Having been chased from Jordan, the fedayeen relocated there in order to rebuild their structures. Lebanon seemed a real alternative to Jordan. Although it did not offer direct access to the territories occupied in 1967, it was contiguous with Israel and home to more than 350 000 Palestinians, many of them politically organized. But the PLO‘s urgently felt need to maintain its standing and secure popular support beyond the Palestinians exacerbated Lebanon‘s simmering conflicts. At first, the strategy of armed provocation to gain political legitimacy was successful. The PLO became a powerful player in Lebanese politics enjoying large support, yet it operated as an autonomous entity. But the developments were such that the Palestinian question became the focus of all the unresolved political issues that plagued the country since its creation in 1920. The power the PLO had amassed by standing up against Israeli now turned into a liability. The fedayeen became a party to Lebanon‘s domestic conflicts and, in 1975, the PLO found itself in the middle of a vicious civil war ravaging the country. Looking back, it seems that this was almost inevitable. Beholden to Arab nationalist ideas and clinching to the hope of total liberation, the fedayeen could not help but be drawn into the morass of Lebanon‘s internecine rivalries – in fact, the more radical among them readily threw themselves into it. The problem was that the practical need to find allies in Lebanon was indistinguishable from the goal of fomenting an Arab nationalist revolution as Habash and others intended to do. Both goals relied on a strategy of armed provocation against Israel. When the PLO evacuated Beirut in August 1982 under the protection of a coalition of Western forces, neither Fatah‘s concept of a Palestinian vanguard nor the project of an Arab revolution seemed realistic anymore. The failure of the quest to liberate Palestine had become an irreversible fact. Yet, if there was one

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lesson to be learned from this dire experience then it was that Palestinians now knew that they were Palestinians first and Arabs second.

Lebanon’s Historical Predicament It was French rule over Greater Syria that led to the establishment of modern Lebanon. In its role as Mandate power after the First Word War and protector of the Christian minority in the Levant, France carved out a state for the Maronites of Mount Lebanon (El-Solh 2004: 2-4).318 This new entity, established in 1920, included large swaths of territory along the coast inhabited by a Muslim majority. Greater Lebanon was nonetheless intended to be a Christian state and Maronites came to consider it as their homeland although they comprised no more than half of its population – and their share rapidly declined. In relative terms, however, Maronite Christians maintained their demographic preponderance thanks to Greater Lebanon‘s amazing ethnoreligious fragmentation. Among the more than a dozen or so groups vying for power and influence, the most important, next to the Maronites, were the Sunni and Druze followed by an expanding Shiite Muslim community.319 Under the leadership of powerful families, who ruled over their co-religionists under a feudal social order, the accommodation of diverging interests was achieved by a succession of power sharing agreements among the respective elites – a praxis whose antecedents ran back to the nineteenth century (see Zahar 2005). A power sharing agreement, the so-called National Pact (al-Mithaq al-Watani) of 1943 paved the way for Lebanese independence following France‘s de facto defeat in the Second World War.320 This informal agreement between representatives of the largest Christian and Muslim communities provided the framework for Lebanon‘s distinctive consociational postwar regime. It guaranteed a Maronite presidency (with extensive powers) and a Sunni Prime Minister whereas the cabinet posts were distributed among the ethnoreligious

On 1 September 1920, the French High Commissioner, General Henri Gouraud, proclaimed the creation of Greater Lebanon (Grand Liban) comprising the territory of Mount Lebanon, the towns of Beirut, Tripoli, Sur (Tyre), and Saida (Sidon), the regions of Baalbak and the Biqa, and the districts of Rashayya and Hasbayya. 318

On the Christian side one finds Christian Greek Orthodox (followers of the Russian Orthodox Church), Greek Catholics (followers of the Vatican) and Armenians, among others. Besides Sunni and Druze, other relatively large sects in Lebanon included the Christian Greek Orthodox (followers of the Russian Orthodox Church), Greek Catholics (followers of the Vatican), the Shia Muslims, and the Druze (an offshoot of Islam). (Zahar 2005: 220). Lebanon‘s only official census was conducted in 1932. It showed that Maronite Christians enjoyed a slight numerical majority over the next largest sect, the Sunni Muslims. Yet they made up only 32 percent of Lebanon‘s overall population. 319

The Mount Lebanon had a tradition of consociational arrangements dating back to the 1860s when the European powers began to lobby for the Christian populations in the Levant (see Zahar 2005). 320

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communities relative to their importance. In recognition of the changing demography, it was agreed later that the Speaker of Parliament should be Shiite and his deputy Greek-Orthodox.321 In the spirit of the Pact, this fine-tuned system of ethnoreligious power sharing sought to preserve ―the autonomy of the country‘s 17 religious groups while guaranteeing their proportional representation in the central government‖ (Zahar 2005: 228). Though ingenious, it was a vulnerable construction. In the years to come, several factors were to undermine the viability of the Pact. The rapid transformation Lebanon underwent, once independent, strained its social fabric. The move from an economy dominated by agriculture to one driven by the service sector made impoverished Shiite farmers flock to Beirut‘s squalid suburbs while the upper strata of the Sunni and Christian communities amassed unseen riches. This seems to have exacerbated latent socioeconomic conflicts which opposed center to periphery and elites to the masses. What further aggravated the situation was that they mapped closely onto religious affiliation.322 The rise of the social question could not but pose a challenge to the distribution of power in the state. No census had been taken since 1932 because the Maronite elite feared that Lebanon‘s Christian communities might have lost their slight majority. Muslims increasingly grew suspicious that the power sharing arrangement of the Pact only insufficiently reflected their increasing demographic weight. Moreover, the Pact was questioned on the basis of democratic principles. On what grounds were Maronites entitled to claim preponderance if they were a minority? This touched at the heart of the unresolved question of Lebanon‘s political identity as a state.

The Arab Nationalist Challenge From the beginning, Lebanon‘s political identity was contested. Already in 1920 Lebanon‘s separation from Syria had been denounced in the name of Arab unity. 323 The Pact of 1943 had attempted to stake a middleRepresentation in the legislative branch was also balanced along confessional lines with a proportion of 6 to 5 in favor of Christians although the exact number of seats allocated was to be determined by the law. 321

Zahar remarks that for most of the twentieth century confessional cleavages were concomitant with class divisions: ―at the start of the century, the rich urban merchant classes tended to be Sunnis and Greek Orthodox. The rural farmers tended to be Maronites and Shia, but Maronites were on the whole more prosperous than their Shia counterparts. The Druze, initially the ruling political class and the feudal landlords of the Ottoman Empire that controlled Mount Lebanon, lost their privileged status under the French mandate. Maronites prospered under French rule‖ (2005: 220). In the second half of the century, the conflicts would be exacerbated when the masses entered the political game which, until then, had been the prerogative of a tiny elite. 322

The General Syrian Congress of March 1920 had nonetheless signaled its readiness to maintain for Mount Lebanon the autonomy arrangement of the Ottoman period. Although this area was considered part of the Syrian Arab state, the Congress declared that ―it should be governed according to a system of decentralized administration…‖ (quoted in ElSolh 2004: 7) 323

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ground position by maintaining a Christian-dominated state albeit with an ―Arab face‖, as the oft-used formula went. But the idea of a Lebanese kiyan did not produce a shared sense of nationhood. Was there a Lebanese nation or only an Arab one? Opposing views clashed over that question: The classical Arabist [i.e. Arab nationalist] position was that Arabs everywhere, including those in Lebanon, belonged to one Arab nation. The Lebanese nationalists believed that Lebanon was the nation-state of the Lebanese to which they belonged and to which they should give their undivided loyalty (El-Solh 2004: 317). Whereas Lebanon‘s Muslim communities tended toward Arab nationalism, Maronites, in their majority, were Lebanese nationalists – after all, Lebanon was their state. The country‘s socioeconomic and political divisions, organized along confessional lines, thus found political ideologies in whose language they could express themselves. But the egalitarian message of nationalism was corrosive for a system which had institutionalized communal hierarchies. The Arab nationalist revival under Gamal Abdel Nasser‘s leadership in the late 1950s provided the mainly Muslim Lebanese opposition with the means to challenge Maronite dominance. The Pact had included a pledge to neutrality regarding foreign policy, but the Suez War forced President Camille Chamoun to make a choice, and he resolved to maintain diplomatic relations with France and Britain. Lebanese Arab nationalists were outraged. In 1957, political forces opposing Chamoun‘s pro-Western course rallied behind the Sunni Prime Minister, further polarizing the country.324 The Egypto-Syrian union, in turn, caused alarm among Lebanese nationalists within the Maronite elite not least because Lebanon‘s Arab nationalists demanded to join the UAR – indeed, Syria had never recognized Lebanon‘s independence. Violence between the armed opposition groups and Chamoun‘s Christian Phalange militias escalated in May 1958, when he announced his intention to amend the constitution in order to stand for a second term. Lebanon accused the UAR to supply the opposition with weapons, but the Lebanese army remained neutral, anxious not to be torn apart along sectarian lines. When the Hashemite monarchy in Iraq was toppled in July by a coterie of army officers inspired by the example of the Egyptian Free Officers of 1952, the menace of an Arab nationalist takeover prompted Chamoun to request Washington‘s help. US Marines were deployed to Beirut to defend the country against what he presented, within the then-dominant Cold War frame, as a communist threat.325 Yet, the 1958 crisis was, above all, a domestic power struggle. Neither Nasser nor the Lebanese He was accused to be in favor of the Baghdad Pact formally called the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO) which was a Western-built coalition to counter Soviet influence in the region. Among Arab nationalists it was perceived as being directed against Nasser and the Arab revolution in the first place. 324

Nasser‘s deepening relations with Moscow and his opposition to the Baghdad Pact made the UAR a threat to US interests in the region. The year before the Eisenhower administration had made the containment of Soviet influence in the Middle East a strategic imperative. The so-called Eisenhower Doctrine pledged to use armed force to defend the 325

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Arab nationalists seem to have pressed for a Greater Syria (El-Solh 2004: 316, 318). In fact, the intervention stabilized the country and the US forces left Lebanon a few months later – allegedly without having fired a single shot (Rogan 2011: 397). The Arab nationalist challenge to Lebanon‘s ethnoreligious system of powersharing was contained. Chamoun‘s successor to the presidency, the former army general Fouad Shehab, managed to enlist Nasser‘s support for Lebanon‘s independence. Egyptian diplomats in Lebanon helped check Lebanon‘s Arab nationalists in becoming their ―undeclared representatives‖ (El-Solh 2004: 320, 316). What El-Solh calls the ―Shihab-Nasser pact‖ was to outlast Shehab‘s presidency until Nasser‘s death in 1970 (2004: 319-20). Now the PLO aspired to play the role of the custodian of Arab nationalism in Lebanon. The PLO was not to perform the stabilizing role Nasser‘s Egypt had played in Lebanon‘s domestic politics. In fact, a company of Syrian-trained Palestinian fedayeen had taken part in the 1958 civil war on the side of Arab nationalist militias (Sayigh 1997: 67). Now, they were back and stronger than ever before. Following the PLO‘s expulsion from Jordan, its stakes in Lebanese domestic politics were building. The PLO‘s expanding physical presence turned out to be a catalyst for rather than a check on Lebanon‘s domestic conflicts.

The Palestinian Presence For more than a decade, Lebanon was to play a foremost role in the Palestinian struggle. Starting with the defeat in Jordan in 1970 until the Israeli invasion in the summer of 1982, Lebanon served, as Brynen put it, ―as the political and military center of gravity of the Palestinian movement‖ (1989: 48). It provided the fedayeen with a safe haven, a guerrilla sanctuary, to launch its operations against Israel. But Lebanon was even more: Lebanon offered the Palestinian movement – long constrained by the interests and interventions of others – its first period of sustained political freedom. In Lebanon, the Palestinian movement grew uniquely free to construct its own institutions, to promote its own identity, and to choose its own, Palestinian paths to the dream of national liberation (Brynen 1989: 48). In the early 1970s, Lebanon was in a state of domestic crisis and revolutionary ferment. Since the late 1960s the economy stagnated; students were protesting, and the institutional makeup of the state, especially with regard to the representation of the Muslim population, was a matter of heated debates. The reasons for all the flurry of PLO activity in Lebanon was the Cairo Agreement of November 1969, which had been concluded between the PLO and the Lebanese government under Nasser‘s auspices. It brought the

states of the region against Communist aggression. It was on this basis that the US intervened in July 1958 – effectively a move against Arab nationalism rather than Communism.

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PLO forces the recognition as an ―allied army‖ and a large degree of autonomy albeit in return for their pledge to respect the country‘s sovereignty and security. This effectively meant cooperation with the Lebanese authorities and no meddling with Lebanese domestic politics. The hope was that the PLO‘s official position of mutual non-interference with regard to its dealings with Arab regimes would make the Cairo Agreement workable (El-Solh 2004: 326-7). It did not. The autonomy provisions of the Cairo Agreement put the more than 300 000 Palestinian refugees in the sixteen camps run by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) under PLO control. The camps subsequently became ―a key popular base for the guerrilla movement‖ (Cobban 1984: 47-8). The infrastructure of the camps rapidly developed. Palestinian popular committees launched local initiatives which initiated programs of communal self-organization. The provision of utilities, health care, and education, among other things, were tackled autonomously. And, the increasing level of political activism allowed Palestinians ―to institutionalize their own national consciousness, to solidify the sense of resurgent Palestinianism‖ (Brynen 1989: 52).326 Once again, the Palestinian presence transformed itself into a state-within-a-state. It did not help that the fedayeen continued to rely on the very same armed strategy that had helped them to secure the Cairo Agreement in the first place. In the mid-1960s, the fedayeen had found it difficult to receive local support in Lebanon. Remembers El-Solh: ―when in 1967 some factions of the Lebanese Arab nationalist and leftist groups joined together to form ‗The Lebanese Front for the Support of the Palestinian Revolution‘, the reaction of the mainstream leftist parties and the pro-Nasser Lebanese Arab nationalist groups was lukewarm if not hostile‖ (2004: 323). The Battle of Karameh changed that. The funeral of a young Lebanese fighter who had been killed in Karameh stoked massive rallies which underlined the support the fedayeen now commanded. The PLO rallied Lebanese Arab nationalists as well as leftist parties in an alliance that cut across confessional lines (El-Solh 2004: 323). It was among the poor and middle classes in the cities along the coast, in their majority Sunni but also comprising Shiites and Greek Orthodox, that they struck a chord. Among these sectors of Lebanese society, Arab nationalism with its revolutionary appeal was hugely popular, and they wholeheartedly endorsed the Palestinian cause whereas Maronites grew increasingly wary of the Palestinians in their country (Hudson 1974: 264).

The problem of the provision of electricity, water, and public sanitation in the camps was addressed. A system of medical care was established and run by the Palestinian Red Crescent Society. Meanwhile, the refugees were mobilized through youth, women, professionals and workers organizations, all within the framework of the PLO. 326

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The popularity of the fedayeen was such that the Israeli reprisals provoked by fedayeen incursions into northern Israel effectively boosted their standing as the Lebanese army attempted to curb their activity. In April 1969, the army tried to move fedayeen positions off the border in order to avoid giving Israel a pretext to attack Lebanon. This led to a first of a string of clashes between the fedayeen and the authorities. This incident sufficed to touch off ―a wave of pro-guerrilla riots and demonstrations in Beirut, Saida, Tyre and Tripoli in which at least 12 people were killed‖ (Hudson 1978: 263-4). In the fall of the same year, fedayeen commandos attacked Lebanese border posts when an agreement limiting their activity collapsed. In the face of angry demonstration the Prime Minister was forced to step down (Hudson 1978: 264). With the fedayeen riding on a wave of unseen popularity and strong of the backing provided by Syria and Egypt, the Lebanese authorities had to concede. Unable to subdue them the army entered into negotiations with Arafat. The result was the fateful Cairo Agreement. 327 For the PLO, the Jordanian experience had fundamentally altered the character of its presence in Lebanon – it became ―a matter of life and death‖ (El-Solh 2004: 328). As in Jordan before, the strategy of provocation had yielded significant political gains, but the events of September 1970 highlighted the need to build a strong popular base. At all costs the fedayeen had to prevent a repetition of the Jordanian scenario in which they had found themselves isolated from the people, Palestinians and Transjordanians alike. This was all the more urgent in the case of Lebanon since there Palestinians were a minority. The lesson of Jordan was that ―the continued survival of the Palestinian resistance required the mobilization of a broad base of Arab support, one which would both sustain the PLO and constrain the ability of certain regimes to strike at it‖ (Brynen 1989: 55). By the force of circumstances they were inexorably pulled into Lebanese politics. In order to maintain their status and build political legitimacy, the fedayeen continued to rely on their strategy of provoking Israel. In doing so, they not only addressed their fellow Palestinians, whose support for them was beyond doubt, but the Lebanese public at large. In trying to consolidate their presence, the fedayeen kept on attacking their Zionist enemy across Lebanon‘s southern border. But the political gains of that strategy were eventually offset by the intensity of Israel‘s retaliatory strikes.

A poll published shortly after the signing of the Cairo Agreement in the independent daily Al-Nahar reported that ―85 per cent of the Lebanese sampled favored wholeheartedly or with some reservation Palestinian commando operations in general. Sixty-two per cent were completely or partially in favor of commando operations from Lebanese territory, a figure up from the 39 per cent in a poll the previous May‖ (Hudson 1978: 264). 327

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The PLO‘s strategy fostered the radicalization of an already polarized political landscape – to some extent quite deliberately, for intentions among the fedayeen diverged. In consequence, the Lebanese opposition, those on the side of political change, grew ever more pro-Palestinian. In reaction, the Maronite political elite, anxious to preserve the status quo and deeply concerned for the country‘s independence, began to loathe the Palestinian presence. The Palestinians made themselves into a prism of the ills befalling the Lebanese polity. They rattled a fragile status quo and thus got into the quicksand of Lebanese politics. Once again, the strategy of armed provocations had produced considerable political gains, but the price the Palestinians would ultimately pay was very high.

The Civil War The PLO tried to maintain cordial relations with all Lebanese political forces (El-Solh 2004: 326).328 But the more Israel‘s reprisals in reaction to its incursions and terrorist attacks abroad were felt, not only in the south and in the refugee camps but also in Beirut, the more Lebanon‘s political elites were forced to choose their sides. In fact, Israel appears to have been well aware of this. By ―attacking Lebanese civilian targets, Israel aimed to exert pressure on the Lebanese government and population to turn against the PLO, and eventually abandon the Cairo Agreement‖ (El-Solh 2004: 327). The fedayeen acknowledged the adverse effects of their strategy but they judged that the benefits outweighed the costs.329 For the time being, the Lebanese government was not in a position to revoke the deal. The political elites, for all that divided them, had in common their anti-Zionism. What eventually made the PLO unbearable in the eyes of the Maronite elite was it taking sides with the opposition. When the PLO reached out to find support among Lebanon‘s political forces, it found the so-called ―progressives‖: Nasserites, the Syrian Social National Party (SSNP), Baathists, Communists, and the Progressive Socialist Party (PSP), among others. They all were members of the oppositional Lebanese National Movement (LNM). The Arab nationalist dimension and revolutionary rhetoric of the Palestinian struggle made the LNM a natural ally of the PLO. The rapprochement was accelerated by radical fedayeen factions, like the PFLP, who were ready to intervene into Lebanese politics in disregard of the PLO‘s pledge to non-interference in the affairs of its host states. Fomenting revolutionary change in Arab front states was still 328

In 1976 when Syria intervened Arafat tried to mediate between Hafez al-Assad and Jumblatt (Hudson 1978: 275).

Brynen, summarizing the debates at the time, writes that those in favor of military operations argued that ―a cease-fire with the enemy was unthinkable; that Israel would attack in any case; that a cease-fire would represent a surrender of the rights the PLO had acquired through the Cairo Agreement; and that it would send the wrong message to the Lebanese people, suggesting that the PLO, and not an aggressive, expansionist, Israel, was responsible for their misfortunes‖ (1989: 60). 329

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considered a precondition for the liberation of Palestine, the Jordanian experience notwithstanding.330 After initial hesitation, Fatah went down the path of the LNM-PLO alliance which put the Palestinians on one side of Lebanon‘s political divide (Brynen 1989: 55).331 The more the fedayeen‘s armed provocations created a backlash in the Lebanon the more they were in need of allies in order to preserve their autonomy. The LNM was a broad political alliance comprising thirteen parties. Established in 1969, its dominating figure was Kamal Jumblatt, head of the PSP. Though a Druze leader hailing from a powerful family, he had broken the ranks of Lebanon‘s elite and turned against the ethnoreligious Pact system calling for political change. 332 Initially, the LNM focused on socioeconomic justice and aimed at overturning Lebanon‘s sectarian system in order to replace it with a one-man-one-vote secular democracy. But its de facto alliance with the PLO made the Arab struggle for the liberation of Palestine a cornerstone of its program, and its agenda of change took a decisively Arab nationalist turn. The LNM demanded that Lebanon abandon its isolationism and join the Arab fold for, as it claimed, ―to take part in the struggle against Zionism meant, in practical terms, providing the PLO with full freedom of action via the Lebanese territories. This was tantamount to a litmus test of Lebanese attitude towards Arabism‖ (El-Solh 2004: 325). Since the Lebanese ruling elite failed the test, the LNM took it upon itself to defend the Palestinian cause. The LNM-PLO alliance, to the Maronite elite, looked like a conspiracy bent on destroying their Lebanon. The Maronite elite was not opposed to the Palestinian cause per se, but the LNM-PLO alliance threatened to ―catalyze a movement for change among those segments of the Lebanese population who were either frozen out of effective participation or limited by custom to an inferior position‖ (Hudson 1978: 264). The Lebanese domestic conflict, pitting an opposition calling for a fundamental reform of the political system against the status quo forces, was narrowed down to the problems caused by the fedayeen presence.

Arab nationalism, for them, was more than a call to Arab solidarity – it was a political program. As Habash stated in an interview: We reject any mediation effort that does not recognize the just demands of the Lebanese masses and the right of the Palestinian Revolution to unrestricted action against Israel.‖ What he wanted was to ―build a new structure in Lebanon, in all Lebanese institutions, to replace the old structure, which is based on confessionalism. And the building of a new structure cannot be achieved in the absence of progressive, nationalist [Arab nationalist] and democratic government (quoted in Hudson 1978: 274). 330

331

Some of Fatah‘s leaders did however endorse this strategy in public (El-Solh 2004: 328).

In contrast to his allies Jumblatt remained committed to an independent Lebanon but unwavering in his support for the Palestinian cause. In 1970 he became Secretary-General of the ―Front for the Participation in the Palestinian Revolution‖ (El-Solh 2004: 330). 332

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The already tense situation was worsened by Israel‘s reactions to the continuous string of provocations directed against it. Israeli retaliation to fedayeen incursions mostly hit the south but acts of international terrorism made Beirut a target as well. 333 A precedent was set in December 1968. Following a PFLP assault on an Israeli plane in Athens, Israeli commandos staged a raid on Beirut‘s international airport destroying no less than thirteen civilian airliners. The message was clear: Since the Palestinian terrorists had their base in Lebanon, the country as a whole would be taken responsible for their acts.334 But for the time being, Israel‘s policy only added to the fedayeen‘s standing. And when, in April 1973, Israeli commandos entered Beirut to assassinate three of the principal PLO leaders, killing several bystanders, the popular outcry forced Maronite leaders to join the huge pro-Palestinian funeral demonstrations (Hudson 1978: 265).335 Yet, the costs of Israel‘s retaliations to the Lebanese economy and its domestic stability were considerable.336 Under the Cairo Agreements, the fedayeen presence expanded. The PLO now controlled large swathes of the south of the country and held the west of Beirut. It became a parallel power flaunting Lebanese laws and ignoring the local authorities. The leniency of the Maronite elite reached its limit, and rather than blaming Israel, it was the Palestinians and their local allies who were made responsible for the deteriorating situation. Radical Maronites, notably the Phalange, saw themselves vindicated in their rejection of the PLO and the Pact more generally. In a sign of apprehension, several new Christian militias had emerged since 1968, and under Shehab‘s presidency the Phalange Party had become a foremost political force (El-Solh 2004: 321). When the fedayeen retreated to Lebanon after their defeat in Jordan, the Maronite paramilitary units accelerated their build-up (Hudson 1978: 264-5).337 The lesson of 1958 was clear. If things were to deteriorate, the Lebanese army, no less divided along sectarian lines than society as a whole, would not be of help. In the early 1970s, the Phalange alone had several thousand members under arms.

In 1970 the incursion reached their peak with 390 Palestinian operations resulting in some 174 Israeli casualties. The frequency and effectiveness of these attacks declined thereafter. In 1981 the IDF reported 141 cross-border incidents. Although resulting in fewer casualties, these attacks could still provoke panic in Israeli border towns (Brynen 1989: fn. 16). 333

To what extent this recourse to international terrorism, particularly pronounced in the early 1970s, was official PLO policy or simply the deed of renegade groups like the PFLP and its offshoots – notably Abu Nidal‘s ―Black September‖ – is a moot point. These were Palestinian actions, after all. 334

335

The operation was in retaliation for the attack on the 1972 Munich Olympics.

For the period covering mid-1968 to mid-1974, Hudson, referring to official sources, talks of 44 major Israeli attacks accounting for about 880 civilian casualties (1978: 276). 336

Hudson also sees a connection between the Battle of Karameh and the resurgence of Maronite parties in the elections of the spring of 1968. 337

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Things came to a head in spring 1975 when fedayeen actively took sides in armed clashes between LNM forces and the Lebanese army. A conflict over fishing rights in the southern town of Sidon involving a Maronite consortium and Muslim fishermen had sparked popular unrest. Army units were sent in to quell the protests, and the situation escalated. Sectarian and political cleavages now converged with the Palestinian fedayeen siding with the Muslim-dominated ―progressives‖ of the LNM against the ruling Maronite Christian ―right‖ – it was the beginning of the civil war. Both sides engaged in a tit-for-tat that soon spiraled out of control. In Beirut, militias began rounding up and massacring people identified with help of their identity cards as belonging to the other faith (Rogan 2011: 481-3). The city was divided into a Muslim west and Christian east. Before the eyes of the world, the Lebanese drama began to unfold. Within the Palestinian camp, Fatah insisted that the best policy was to stay away from too firm an engagement in the civil war, but the radicals were resolved to assist the revolutionary Arab nationalist coalition in overthrowing the regime.338 The civil war had dragged on for more than a year when, in the summer of 1976, Syria intervened in order to prop up the Maronite forces, by then on the defensive. The conflict now had taken on an international dimension and Arafat attempted to mediate between Jumblatt and Syria‘s president Hafez al-Assad (Cobban 1984: 71). But another massacre made Palestinians close ranks and prompted the PLO to drop the idea of non-intervention. In January 1976, the poor Muslim neighborhood of Karantina in east Beirut was overrun by Maronite forces and subsequently bulldozed, killing hundreds in the way. The LNM-PLO forces retaliated and besieged the Christian stronghold of Damour to the south of Beirut. Several hundred died when it eventually fell. A few months later Maronite forces attacked the refugee camp of Tal al-Zaatar. Located between the Christiandominated east of Beirut and Mount Lebanon, it was placed at the connection of these two Christian strongholds. A fierce battle erupted over the strategically important site. Rogan‘s summary of the battle gives an idea why Tal al-Zaatar acquired such an enormous symbolic significance afterwards: ―The camp‘s 30,000 inhabitants suffered a fifty-three-day campaign of relentless violence before surrendering, after weeks without medical relief, fresh water, and dwindling food supplies. No reliable casualty figures were available for the siege, though an estimated 3,000 died …‖ (2011: 483). The siege of Tal al-Zaatar in the fall of 1976 was a turning point for the Palestinians and the culminating point of the first round of the Lebanese civil war. 339 In October, a mini-summit of Arab heads of state, with Arafat

In that regard it is important to note, for instance, that Jumblatt and Arafat tried to cool tempers when the conflict escalated in Sidon in early 1975. Their intervention was without success (El-Solh 2004: 334). 338

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attending, convened in Riyadh. It agreed to a ceasefire and an Arab peacekeeping force which effectively sanctioned the Syrian presence in Lebanon (Rogan 2011: 485).340 Syria still sought to play the role of an arbiter. Its dominant position and influence on Lebanon‘s domestic politics threatened Israel which was on the side of the Maronite forces. And when the Shiite community emerged as a separate party to the conflict in the wake of the Iranian Revolution, the Lebanese battlefield was more fragmented than ever before. The Lebanese conflict had transformed into a regional conflict. The longer the conflict dragged on, the more the Arab nationalist imaginary lost its appeal. Far less than the vanguard of the Arab nation, the PLO now appeared as an alien force meddling in Lebanese affairs. In 1969 there had been widespread support for the slogan ―freedom of action for the fedayeen‖, but when Israel intervened in Lebanon in 1982 to chase the PLO out of Beirut, many Lebanese were glad to see their backs. The subsequent massacre of hundreds of Palestinians at the hands of Maronite militias in the camps of Sabra and Shatila only confirmed earlier lessons.341 Their struggle was far more a Palestinian than an Arab one, as was their suffering. They stood alone. This Palestinization of the Palestinian struggle can be grasped from the diverging descriptions provided by three key personalities of the Lebanese drama. Habash, the leader of the PFLP, held on to the revolutionary Arab nationalist lore. He claimed that the conflict was between the Lebanese masses and the Palestinian revolution against a reactionary elite supported by Western imperialists (see Hudson 1978: 274). Chamoun, the former President and Maronite strongmen, by contrast, interpreted it as a war between Lebanese and Palestinians that was exploited by Lebanese Muslims bent on seizing power in the state (see Rogan 2011: 479). For him the Palestinians had fomented a coup. Fatah‘s Abu Iyad took a median position. He acknowledged that the Lebanese civil war was a struggle among Lebanese with the Maronites and the LNM as its main contenders, on the one side, and the PLO on the other

According to some estimates the civil war claimed 30 000 dead and 70 000 wounded in a population of 3.25 million for the period from April 1975 to October 1976 (Rogan 2011: 483-4) 339

The Riyadh Summit brought together PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat, Lebanese President Ilyas Sarkis, Syrian President Hafez al-Assad and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat under Saudi and Kuwaiti auspices. Agreement by these key regional actors on ending the Lebanese civil war, obtained at Riyadh, was later endorsed by the Arab League as a whole. An Arab force, the so-called Arab Deterrent Force (ADF), consisting almost exclusively of Syrian troops was mandated to help implement the agreement (for details, see El-Solh 2004). 340

In September 1982 Phalange militias raided the Palestinian camps on the outskirts of Beirut. Somewhere between several hundred and three thousand people were killed, most of them civilians. The so-called Sabra and Shatila massacres are seen as a reaction to the assassination of Bachir Gemayel, Lebanon‘s President-elect, two days earlier. The circumstances of the massacres became an issue of controversy since the IDF was in control of the situation and actually let the Phalange enter the camps, standing by idle as the killings took place (for a summary of recent findings, see Anziska [2012]). 341

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(see Hudson 1978: 274). The fedayeen had got involved in a dogfight that was essentially not theirs. More to the point, their strategy of provocations had backfired. Provoking Israel had been a key element of the Palestinian strategy to secure political legitimacy. For the fedayeen this had worked with their Palestinian constituency and initially it allowed them to mobilize support among the Lebanese. But they overplayed their game when they let their gains upend the status quo. The dissatisfaction with the Palestinian presence grew. Writes Brynen: ―Constant Israeli military pressure on Lebanon, resulting in the deaths of thousands and the displacement of hundreds of thousands from the south, was a major, perhaps the major, reason for this‖ (1989: 52-3). Anti-Palestinian propaganda and the behavior of certain fedayeen factions then contributed to alienate the Lebanese population. But the PLO failed to counter that trend. When, in 1976, the fedayeen retreated to the south, they began to establish a conventional force there. The shelling of northern Israel, though militarily meaningless, provided them with a means to re-escalate the conflict whenever they deemed it necessary to stress the PLO‘s status as Arab vanguard (Brynen 1989: 57, 61).342 It would bring them an Israeli intervention.343 In striking similarity to the events in Jordan, the radicals, with Habash in the lead, well understood the political power they had by holding the trigger for larger conflagrations. They wanted revolution and overtook Arafat in accelerating the escalatory spiral. Whereas Fatah‘s Palestinianism made Arafat refrain from an all-out engagement in Lebanon‘s conflict, the need to find allies within Lebanon and the escalating violence narrowed the space for a different strategy. The result was another crushing defeat.

6) TOWARD THE INTIFADA In 1982, after months of siege, 12 000 PLO members were evacuated from Lebanon. The PLO headquarters moved to Tunis while the fighters were scattered over several Arab countries. Arafat, once again, endeavored Although the suicide missions from Lebanon sporadically conducted between 1974 and 1978 were absurd from a military point of view, they had nonetheless a purpose. They were meant to subvert Arab-Israeli diplomacy and to ―remind other parties of its presence and to indicate both its rejection of specific suggestions and its intention to subvert any initiatives depriving it of a role‖ (Sayigh 1986: 102). 342

Some contend that ―Operation Peace for Galilee‖ was more than an effort to halt Palestinian attacks on northern Israel. Brynen, for one, claims that ―it was an attempt to produce a severely weakened, more radical PLO under Syrian dominance that would become preoccupied with a struggle for Palestinian loyalties with the Hashemite regime in Jordan; a PLO which would pose a lesser political threat to Israel, and one with which Israel would feel less international pressure eventually to negotiate‖ (1989: 60). 343

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to turn military defeat into political victory insisting in his final message before leaving Beirut that the fedayeen had withstood the ―mighty Israeli war machine longer than all Arab nations combined in previous wars‖ (quoted in Jenkins 1983: 195). This was preposterous and his men knew it. History seemed to repeat itself, only worse. Having lost access to the West Bank when they were driven out of Jordan, they now lost their last connection with Palestine. They had alienated Syria and Egypt de facto turned its back to the conflict over Palestine when it signed the peace treaty with Israel in 1979. The PLO was at its nadir. After the PLO‘s rout in 1982, its future looked gloomy. Its legitimacy and thus Arafat‘s standing was on the wane. Arafat attempted a comeback in Lebanon in 1983 but Damascus induced a split within the PLO ranks and fights erupted among competing factions.344 King Hussein sought to exploit the situation to renew his claim to the West Bank. And the Arab regimes seemed more preoccupied with the Iran-Iraq war than with Palestine although the PLO was more dependent on them than ever before. It was the outbreak of the Palestinian uprising in the OTs that made the Palestinians return to the world‘s stage. The Intifada was an event as unexpected as it was remarkable in the way it came about. Neither was it instigated by the PLO nor was it triggered by an armed provocation of any kind. It was a ―spontaneous outbreak‖ that ―took the PLO leadership entirely by surprise‖ (Khalidi 1997: 200). The popular mobilization Arafat had sought to initiate in vain in 1967 now materialized in astonishing ways. Palestinians rose up against the occupation regime combining the tactical use of the most basic weaponry with a large scale movement of civil disobedience. The images of youngsters facing up Israeli tanks with nothing more than stones, slingshots, and Molotov cocktails impressed the world and earned them sympathy. The Intifada would revitalize the PLO by highlighting the salience of its Palestinianism and thus vindicated the international recognition it had been granted. Most importantly however, the Intifada became the first expression of a Palestinian nationalism proper. It opened the door to the two-state solution with a Palestinian state next to Israel. The strikes, boycotts, and, more generally, the end of cooperation with the Israeli authorities underscored the popular nature of the movement. There was a people manifesting its existence by demonstrating the untenable state of occupation and statelessness through collective self-sacrificing action. The moral high ground the Palestinians now occupied was bolstered by their status as a majority in the Territories. Contrasting with the initial goal of total liberation of Palestine it was here that self-determination could be realized and the PLO seized the opportunity to demand statehood. The world came to perceive the Intifada as a struggle for national liberation that not only was justified in its ends but also in its means.

344

The split of 1983 was overcome in 1987 only at the eighteenth PNC.

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For many years, the fedayeen had looked at those within with a good dose of skepticism. In the immediate aftermath of the failed attempt to launch an armed uprising in the West Bank in 1967, the OTs looked more like a liability than an asset. The West Bank‘s relations to Jordan were menacing and moves toward autonomous political organization provoked strong reactions within the diaspora. And even years later, when a majority of the West Bankers displayed support for the PLO, they remained suspect. Indeed, Jordan kept challenging the PLO‘s right to represent the Palestinians and kept mobilizing support against it in the West Bank which remained de jure Jordanian land. Israel, on its part, attempted to foster a Palestinian leadership independent of the PLO in order to consolidate its occupational regime. Being coveted by Israel, Jordan, and the PLO, the West Bank had become an important political arena. Palestinians in the OTs realized that the solution to their plight would not come from the outside. With Nasser‘s death, the foremost champion of Arab unity had disappeared without leaving a successor. The events in 1970/71 had alienated them from King Hussein, yet cooperation with Jordan remained their only hope to end occupation. With the arrival of the right-wing Likud party to power in 1977, the repression in the OTs was ratcheted up and Jewish settlements expanded. Meanwhile, the experience of victimization at the hands of Israeli security forces echoed back from the diaspora as Palestinians within witnessed the events unfolding in Lebanon and heard about the repression of Palestinian activism in other Arab states. After all, they were Palestinians, first and foremost. And, in spite ―of their disbelief in the PLO‘s ability to free them from their situation, the population began sympathizing if not with its leadership, then with what it symbolized‖ (Jamal 2005: 37-8, my emphasis). The dire state of the Palestinian cause in the mid-1980s made some PLO cadres realize that their only hope now lay with those in the OTs.345 When their potential came to the fore during the Intifada, it transformed the Arab struggle for the liberation of Palestine into a Palestinian struggle for self-determination. Palestinian nationalism made the OTs ―the center of gravity of Palestinian politics‖ and thus opened the door for a statebuilding process on Palestinian lands (Khalidi 1997: 200). The Causes of the Intifada The Intifada (shaking or shaking off in Arabic) erupted in December 1987. Although unexpected, there were several signs that tensions had been building for a while. The Likud government of Menachem Begin ―ushered in an era of repressive counterinsurgency policies‖ (O‘Neill 1991: 49). From 1977 to 1984, the Israeli As Khalid al-Hasan admitted in 1983: ―Ich denke, daß jetzt die Menschen im ‗Inneren‘ größere Relevanz als wir haben. Ihre Unterstützung verleiht uns internationale Legalität … Sie sind unsere letzte Quelle des Widerstandes‖ [I believe that now the people ‗within‘ have are of greater importance than us. Their support gives us international legality … They are the last resort of our resistance, my translation] (quoted in Baumgarten 1991: 266). 345

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authorities recorded a several fold increase in the number of public disturbances (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 21). In 1986, the death of two students at Bir Zeit University led to ten days of unrest with the youth and students in the lead. In the fall of 1987, clashes erupted in Gaza between members of the Islamic Jihad movement (al-Jihad al-Islami) and security forces leading to deaths on both sides. These events were to set the tone for what was to come. The spark that set off the Intifada was a serious but otherwise inconspicuous traffic accident close to the Erez checkpoint in the north of the Gaza Strip on 8 December 1987. Four Palestinians were killed and several wounded when an Israeli army truck crashed into their car. Rumors spread that the event was in revenge for the stabbing of an Israeli in Gaza two days earlier. Although groundless, the word-to-mouth sparked unrest in the nearby Sajayah neighborhood. ―During the next two days, the riots spread all over the Gaza Strip and then, starting from the refugee camp of Balata, near Nablus, to the West Bank as well‖ (Merari et al. 1989: 181). The flames of revolt were fanned by the overreaction of the Israeli forces. The army resorted to live ammunition to quell the protests killing several people as the riots spilt over into the West Bank. Soon the uprising had engulfed all of the OTs. The hotspots of the Intifada were the cities and refugee camps but the unrest reached into the villages thereby underscoring its popular character. Violent demonstrations punctuated by commerce and labor strikes became a daily occurrence. The Intifada did not come out of the blue. Over the years, a climate of political radicalism had established itself among Palestinian youth. The Intifada‘s success in galvanizing the people has to be understood against the background of accumulating social and political grievances exacerbated by the absence of perspectives for an improvement of the overall situation. To begin with, there was no job market in the OTs to absorb the ever-growing number of young, well-educated Palestinians.346 Under Israeli occupation, several universities and colleges were established and the overall level of education increased considerably. Yet, even university graduates had trouble to find jobs.347 And the work Palestinians could get in Israel, where they were hired as cheap labor, underscored their inferior

The West Bank and Gaza underwent a significant demographic transformation under occupation. By the 1980s the population had grown from 586 000 to 836 000 in the West Bank and from 381 000 to 545 000 in Gaza – with the bulk being under 35 years of age (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 1-2). 346

According to Mishal and Aharoni, only 15 percent of university graduates were able to find work ―suited to their qualifications‖ (1994: 3). 347

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status.348 In short, a classic youth bulge in the face of socioeconomic stagnation created pent-up frustration in reaction to structural limitations imposed on social mobility (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 1-4). These socioeconomic grievances were exacerbated by a shift in Israeli policy. The Israeli right, in power since 1977, showed no interest in a political settlement. Its declared goal was to retain the West Bank, a land it valued not only because of its strategic importance but also because of its religious symbolism – after all it was the Biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria to which Jews had a historic right. The new government aggressively promoted the building of settlements in the West Bank (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 14-5).349 In the early 1980s, the repressive policies increased. The lenient nature of Israeli occupation had encouraged a level of pro-PLO political activism in the OTs that worried the authorities. A crackdown followed which highlighted the humiliating and demeaning character of the occupation. The elected mayors were removed and replaced with appointed figures; political organizations, like the NGC, were outlawed; Bir Zeit was temporarily closed, and Palestinian newspapers faced stronger censorship (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 18). These policies only aggravated the overall situation; all the more as Israel could not fill the leadership vacuum its strategy had created. By now, pro-Jordanian figures, though more pliable to the military administration, were hardly willing to stand up to the pro-PLO forces in the OTs. For the Palestinians in the OTs, all this was embedded in a new understanding of the world around them. Since the 1970s, the political identity of those living under occupation became acquainted with Fatah‘s Palestinianism. It ushered in a distinct national identity which had been unknown to the older generation. Contributing to this development and to the increase in political awareness more generally were the improvements in the field of education. Finding that their life chances were limited by the occupation regimes

348

Based on testimonies Merari at al. summarize the personal grievances that had built under the occupation: They mention the daily humiliation of living under a military rule that treats them as hostile until proven otherwise; the indignities experienced upon working in Israel and encountering Israelis, employers and others, who treat them at best with suspicion. They also point to the indignity of their social-economic position vis-a-vis the Israelis as a cheap and willing labor force for jobs the Israelis do not want. They resent the Israeli argument that under the occupation their standard of living has improved remarkably (1989: 177).

During his campaign for the 1977 election the later Prime Minister Menachem Begin had pledged that, ―Judea and Samaria shall … not be relinquished to foreign rule. Between the sea and the Jordan River there will be Jewish sovereignty only‖ (quoted in Jones 1993: 12). After the elections his coalition agreed to a toned down formula declaring that ―the Jewish people has an eternal historical right to the land of Israel, our incontestable patrimony‖ (quoted in Jones 1993: 12). In policy terms this did not make much of a difference. The goal was to consolidate Israeli control over the land by creating facts on the ground. 349

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and their aspirations frustrated, young educated Palestinians were politicized (Merari et al. 1989: 178). Schools and universities turned into hotspots of political contestation. The catalyst that transformed these hardships and grievances into political action was the absence of a political perspective for the resolution of the conflict. Following the defeat in Lebanon, the PLO and Jordan resumed the political dialogue, but the Amman Agreement of 1985 was a failure. The hopes that the deal between Arafat and King Hussein had rekindled were thwarted when it was cancelled a few month later. With the international community exasperated, the chances for a diplomatic solution vanished. Remembers Siniora, editor of al-Fajr at that time: ―The Palestinians, therefore, felt that the Arab world and the international community were ignoring the Palestinian issue‖ (1988: 4). The uprising was the result of the cumulative effects of life under occupation and the inability on the part of the parties to the conflict to provide a blueprint for a negotiated solution.

The Organization of the Intifada The main force behind the Intifada was the youth. It was a generation that had grown up under occupation and under the surveillance of Israeli security forces (Jamal 2005: 89). Politically, they were orphans of the nowdeceased dream of the liberation of Palestine by Arab forces. But they nonetheless aimed at disrupting the status quo in the hope of something else. In their actions they emulated the fedayeen in taking on the mighty enemy without fearing individual sacrifice. The picture Siniora draws of them is telling: ―It is the assertive, confident generation of 1967 that has just come of age that is rebelling. It fears neither the Israeli occupation nor the fact that live ammunition is being used. And each time the Israelis arrest some of the leaders, twice the number arrested steps in to assume leadership roles‖ (1988: 3). The one factor that stood out during the Intifada was its level of organization. Merari et al. argue that in the years before the Intifada the PLO had made ―intensive efforts to reinforce the population‘s identification with it as a national leadership and to strengthen its position by establishing a political-and-economic infrastructure‖ (1989: 179). The activity of professional organization, unions, and charities had been encouraged and money had been flowing in to finance these activities. Indeed, the Intifada would thrive on an organizational infrastructure that had developed since the late 1970s. An outstanding role would be played by the Shabiba (Arabic for youth), a movement affiliated with Fatah. They became the conveyor belt for the orders of the

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United National Command (al-Qiyada al-wataniyya al-muwahada or UNC) which emerged a few weeks into the uprising.350 The Lijan al-shabiba lil-„amal al-ijtima‟i (Youth Committees for Social Activity) – known as Shabiba, were established in the early 1980s with the aim to gain grassroots support for the PLO leadership in exile. Before long, they became an avenue for young Palestinians from lower social strata to become involved in political and social matters (Jamal 2005: 73). Shabiba committees spread throughout the OTs. They organized ―a broad spectrum of activities, ranging from assistance in collecting the harvest to the organization of cultural events and academic and political initiatives‖ (Jamal 2005: 75). The community work led to a sustained interaction between the youngsters and the local population which eroded the authority of local leaders and eventually undermined the effectiveness of the occupation regime (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 5). When the Intifada broke out, the Shabiba ―became the main instrument for getting people to the streets‖ (Merari et al. 1989: 187).351 Together with other similar grassroots structures, notably those established by Islamic associations, the Shabiba secured the uprising a mass base. They engaged Palestinians of all walks of life, from urban centers and rural hinterlands, in acts of civil disobedience and ensured that the policies of noncooperation with the occupier, decided by the emerging leadership of the Intifada and made public through leaflets, were put into practice.352 The success was acknowledged by Siniora when he wrote: ―although the uprising is primarily the product of work begun by the younger generation, it is clear today that young and old of all factions have joined in‖ (1988: 3). Indeed, participation of ―the merchants and the white-collar group‖ was crucial for the Intifada‘s resilience, as Mishal and Aharoni find (1994: 6). The Shabiba were also central when it came to concrete action like ―organizing demonstrations, setting up roadblocks, painting slogans on walls, hoisting PLO flags, enforcing commerce strikes, and preventing

Note that the UNC and affiliated leftist groups were at loggerheads with the Islamists of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad who had their own grassroots structures (the Brotherhood and the Islamic Association respectively). However, both blocs operated along similar lines. The former were stronger in the West Bank and the latter in Gaza (Mishal and Aharoni 1994: 26). The focus here lies on the UNC-Shabiba connection for they promoted a secular nationalism. 350

Besides the Shabiba which were close to Fatah there were other youth organizations affiliated with other PLO factions, like the DFLP‘s al-Wahda; Jabhat al-Amal, affiliated with the PFLP; and the Progressive bloc, identified with the Communist Party (Jamal 2005: 91). 351

The origins of the Palestinian victims of the Intifada in 1987-1988 show that the unrest had engulfed the Territories moving beyond the urban centers into the usually conservative country side. The Israeli attempt to co-opt the villages as a counterbalance to the cities and refugee camps had failed. For Jamal, ―The numbers … reflect the success of the national organizations in mobilizing the villages to take part in the uprising and inflict a disastrous blow on Israeli civil administration policies‖ (2005: 94). 352

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Palestinian laborers of working in Israel‖ (Merari et al. 1989: 188). Meanwhile they also continued to dispense social work by helping people to cope with the social and economic hardship brought about by the Intifada.353 But although the Intifada met its limits in directing the people, failing more than once to elicit the response it sought, the signal it sent was powerful. 354 The Intifada developed its full potential by combining violent protests with civil disobedience in the form of strikes and boycotts. In a show of force, the UNC began to decree opening and closing hours for shops. The orders were largely followed by the Palestinian shopkeepers despite Israeli attempts to counter these measures (Merari et al. 1989: 183). Calls for labor strikes were less successful, partly because people relied on the income from work in Israel. But initial hopes among the Israeli political elite and army staff that the unrest would peter out proved misplaced. Lulls in collective activism were countered by local protests which repeatedly escalated, resulting in Palestinian victims and harsh Israeli repression. Merari et al. give an example of this dynamic from January 1987: The seeming trend toward pacification was broken abruptly in early January. Among the events that triggered the reinflammation of large scale disturbances were the killing of a woman from a small village near Ramallah by the soldiers, during a violent demonstration on 3 January, and the announcement of a decision to expel Palestinian activists who had been accused of having a key role in orchestrating the uprising. Both occurrences swept the territories into a renewed wave of violent demonstrations and riots (1989: 183). Afterwards, changes in the intensity and scope of the uprising increasingly became a function of violent outbursts that provoked casualties and Israeli countermeasures. The repeated escalation of violence thus helped to reinvigorate the Intifada.355 A lot has been made of the fact that throughout the Intifada activists refrained from using firearms. The uprising was, however, all but nonviolent. There is no doubt that peaceful resistance and civil disobedience Merari et al. found that the popular committees they established were running ―a system designed to ease these pressures. They have established a welfare apparatus which supplies the needy with basic foodstuff‖ (1989: 188). What is more, the Shabiba played the role of enforcers punishing Palestinians who did not follow the directives, ―including murders of Palestinian policemen who failed to resign, the lynching of Palestinians accused of cooperating with the Israeli authorities‖ (Merari et al. 1989: 184). 353

354

According to Merari et al., the UNC directives were only partially followed or even ignored altogether: Thus, a demand for the immediate resignation of all Palestinian policemen serving in the Territories resulted in a resignation rate of at least 80 per cent after a policeman who had refused to resign was murdered in Jericho; a similar demand for the resignation of the other Palestinian Civil Administration employees as well as Israeli appointed mayors and members of municipal councils has been, by and large, ignored. The limited ability of the uprising‘s leadership to draw the population into a direct confrontation with Israeli security forces was demonstrated, for instance, when a call to break into schools, which had been closed by the Israeli authorities, was totally disregarded (1989: 185-6).

For instance, the uprising lost some of its momentum in spring 1988 but the assassination of Arafat‘s man for the OTs, Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad) in Tunis on 16 April led to a new outburst of activity. 355

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had an important place, but what kept the movement going and attracted most attention were the stonethrowing kids. They epitomized the spirit of the Intifada. More than a sign of restraint, the use of stones, sticks, and gasoline bombs to face down the security forces was not a matter of choice – firearms were simply not at hand. Self-restraint in the use of force seems to have been declared a matter of principle when it was understood that it gave the Palestinians a moral edge over the Israelis. In fact, the Shabiba adopted the logic of the fedayeen in exploiting the heavy handed policy of the security forces. As Merari et al. found: ―Among the frequent precursors for outbursts – especially in the early stage of the Intifada – were the killing of rioters or bystanders by the IDF‖ (1989: 182). These killings, more often than not, occurred in the course of violent protests that took the form of deadly games pitting Palestinian Davids against Israeli Goliaths. The Ideology of the Intifada The Intifada evolved against the background of written words. Leaflets were the favored means of communication between the leadership and the people. Widely distributed, they helped to organize the uprising and gave it a direction. They called for concrete action, provided advice, defined the political agenda, and endowed the events with meaning. A first communiqué was published on 17 December 1987 in Gaza, eight days after the onset of the uprising. Signed by the ―National Forces in the Occupied Territories‖ it was a local product. In January 1988 another leaflet appeared that indicated a first attempt to coordinate the activities throughout the OTs (Jamal 2005: 92). This time signed by the ―The Palestinian Forces‖, the leaflet provided detailed instructions to the population for an upcoming ―comprehensive general strike‖ and referred to the PLO as ―our sole legitimate representative‖ (Leaflet No.1, quoted in Mishal and Aharoni 1994).356 From this point on, authorship of the communiqués was claimed by the United National Command (UNC) – with the PLO as co-signatory. The UNC leaflets usually proposed a whole gamut of measures to be taken by the population. Strike days and protests were announced, usually framed as commemorations. People were advised to prevent army and police forces from entering Palestinian camps and cities. They were ordered to resign from jobs in the civil administration, to boycott Israeli consumer products, and withhold tax payments. The leaflets thus determined the pace and form of the Intifada. But more than providing instructions for concrete actions, they also defined its ideological content and put the uprising in the context of what was now presented as a Palestinian struggle.

356

Subsequent quotes from leaflets are all taken from Mishal and Aharoni (1994), if not indicated otherwise.

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The UNC leaflets framed the Intifada as a new episode of the Palestinian nationalist struggle under the leadership of the PLO. Despite the harrowing experience of the Nakba, the ―national revolution‖ had succeeded, ―through the continuous procession of martyrs and victims,‖ in thwarting attempts to ―liquidate‖ the Palestinian ―national existence‖ and in ―gaining international recognition for its legitimate national rights‖ (Leaflet No.16). The Palestinians now were ―a free and struggling people‖ (Leaflet No.26). The PLO, as its sole legitimate representative, was said to be the ―expression to the aspirations of the Palestinian people inside the occupied homeland and throughout the diaspora‖ (Leaflet No.10 & 24). In fact, the Palestinian people were addressed as ―the people of the PLO‖ (Leaflet No.3). The Intifada redefined the goals of the Palestinian struggle as return to the homeland, self-determination, and the establishment of a Palestinian state under the leadership of the PLO‖ (Leaflet No.2). In order to emphasize the goal of statehood, the establishment of the Haj Amin‘s All-Palestine Government in Gaza in 1948 (see above) was commemorated on 22 September 1988: ―On this day the people‘s authority should be strengthened … on the road to the proclamation of independence‖ (Leaflet No. 25). Meanwhile, King Hussein‘s decision to severe Jordan‘s ties with the West Bank was celebrated as the return of ―a Palestinian right that had been usurped for 40 years of custodianship and annexation‖ (Leaflet No.24). And Hussein‘s move was interpreted as ―one of the major achievements of the great popular uprising‖ (Leaflet No.23). It was acknowledged that the ―melting pot of the struggle‖ had unified Palestinians and created a distinctively Palestinian national movement (Leaflet No.36). It shaped and defined a new reality. As stated in Leaflet Number 10: ―Our sweeping and violent uprising – the stones, the fire bombs, the various forms of popular struggle, and above all the legitimate armed struggle against the occupiers – is shaping the picture of the homeland.‖ On a more general point, the Palestinian struggle throughout the years had ―made it clear … that the Palestinian people is alive and fighting‖ (Leaflet No. 30). The Arab nationalist rhetoric that had for so long dominated the Palestinian struggle was conspicuously absent. At most, there were calls for Arab states‘ solidarity with the Palestinian struggle (Leaflet No.10). The ―Arab silence‖ was denounced and the uprising called a reaction to ―Arab impotence‖ (Leaflet No.10 & 26). Indeed, it was said that by now, there was no solution to the conflict ―but the Palestinian solution‖ (Leaflet No.10). But the leaflets were not limited to exaltations of the Intifada. What they did was to construct continuity between the armed struggle of the fedayeen and their precursors in the Mandate period, on the one hand, and the so-called children of the stones of the Intifada, on the other. Days of collective action were framed as commemorations of past battles and thus related to each other in a master narrative of the Palestinian struggle since the 1930s. For instance, 21 March 1988 was declared ―the eternal remembrance day for [the battle of]

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Karameh, … a day of Palestinian dignity (karameh)…‖ (Leaflet No.10). Leaflets repeatedly referred to Karameh which was construed as ―marking the armed uprising of the Palestinian giant‖ (Leaflet No.36). At other dates, the ―massacres of Black September and Sabra and Shatila‖ – framed as attempts to obliterate ―our people‘s distinctive national identity‖ – were commemorated (Leaflet No.25). Another leaflet by religious groups explicitly appealed to ―the spirit of the outbreak of the revolution of 1965‖ (Special Leaflet).357 Most importantly, however, a legacy was established in the person of Khalil al-Wazir (Abu Jihad), who had been in charge of coordination the activities in the OTs with the PLO headquarters in Tunis. His violent death became an exercise in collective education. As Leaflet Number 14 solemnly declared: We swear to you, martyr-symbol, teacher of the generations, that we will continue on the road of the pledge and the vow to fight until our people‘s goals and aspirations are attained in full … Let us take revenge with all the means at our disposal against the murderers of our people, and be true to the blood of the martyr, the paragon Abu Jihad, and all our virtuous martyrs … the day will come when our Kalashnikov will sing in every corner of Palestine. The youth of the Intifada, in short, were made into heirs to the fedayeen and, as shown above, there were similarities indeed. What distinguished the Intifada from the earlier struggles was the asymmetry in weaponry, the combination of armed struggle with civil disobedience, and, last but not least, the demand for a state in occupied lands that were home to a Palestinian majority. By now, Palestinians appeared as a nation in its own right.

The Fallout of the Intifada The Intifada transformed Fatah‘s Palestinianism into a fully-fledged Palestinian nationalism. Surprised by the unexpected turn of events, the PLO hastened to harness the movement in the Territories and guide it from far off Tunis. ―Their immediate concern was with keeping the Palestinian issue aflame, and with preserving the PLO‘s status as the recognized leadership and representative of the Palestinian people, until a change of conditions would turn the wheel in their favour‖ (Merari et al. 1989: 189).358 Their attempts were successful and led to a showdown between Arafat and King Hussein.

The historical references even reached further back in time. For the secular forces, figures of the Mandate were put forward as when the leaflets addressed Palestinians as ―people of al-Qassam and ‗Abd al-Qadir al-Husseini‖ in reference to the 1936 revolt and the Nakba respectivly (leaflet no.12). Religious groups went even further back referring to famed battle of the Crusades (for details, see Mishal and Aharoni 1994). 357

Arafat himself admitted in late December that it was not the PLO but the ―people‖ who had launched the Intifada (Merari et al. 1989: 186). 358

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In July 1988 King Hussein threw the towel and declared his disengagement from the West Bank, openly challenging the PLO to assume full responsibility for the OT‘s and Palestinian cause more generally. This the PLO did in declaring independence at the eighteenth PNC on 15 November 1988 in Algiers. The UNC leaflet published for the occasion captures the new quality of the Palestinian struggle: The declaration of an independent Palestinian state underscores the Palestinian identity of our occupied land and the Palestinian people‘s sovereignty over that land. It affirms that the goal of national independence is an irrevocable goal … It blocks the way to all dubious options which were proposed by forces hostile to our people in an effort to liquidate our national cause. It affirms adherence to a different option for which there is no substitute – the Palestinian option (Leaflet No.29). Leaving aside the oddity of raising the flag of a sovereign Palestinian state hundreds of miles away from Palestine, the announcement of the PLO‘s determination to reach a comprehensive political settlement was path breaking (PLO 1988). A month later, Arafat was invited to hold a speech before the United Nations General Assembly, convened in Geneva for the occasion. In the following press conference, Arafat, pressured by the US, provided the much awaited details of this new policy. Combining the UN‘s two-state solution of 1947, spelled out in resolution 181, with the principle of land-for-peace, established by UNSC resolutions 242 and 338, Arafat projected the realization of ―our people‘s rights to freedom and national independence … as well as the right of all parties concerned with the Middle East conflict to exist in peace and security, including . . . the state of Palestine, Israel and other neighbours‖ (United Nations 1989). Fatah‘s Palestinianism had finally left the ideological mold of Arab nationalism. As al-Fajr‟s Siniora commented at that time: The message that the whole world, including Israel, should understand is that through this uprising the Palestinians have said once and for all that Palestinians and Palestinians alone will represent the Palestinian people. They will not be represented by proxy, not by Egypt, not by Jordan, not by anybody else. If the Israelis want a settlement, they must go to the representative of the Palestinian people. It is also clear that more than 90 percent of the Palestinian people support the PLO (1988: 10). The PLO finally substituted the illusory dream of total liberation with the realistic goal of statehood in the OTs. It is noteworthy that the acceptance that Palestinian self-determination would take place in the Gaza and the West Bank was accompanied by another remarkable development: since 1988 armed attacks across the border from Lebanon almost ceased (Brynen 1989: 66). The success of Fatah‘s Palestinianism endowed the Intifada with a political direction. The youth had emulated the fedayeen when, against all odds, they began to challenge the occupation forces with the little they had at their disposal. This time the experience of violence brought about by the strategy of provocation ushered in a truly Palestinian nationalism. Again, victimization proved to be a formative experience for the Palestinians. 248

Through the struggle they lived up to the image they had acquired of themselves – an image fostered by years of armed Palestinian struggle. They thus inserted themselves into a history of struggle and sacrifice which constituted them as Palestinians with a distinctive identity. The OTs paid a heavy price but the Intifada opened the door to Palestinian statehood.359 In the late 1980s, Palestinianism had evolved to a point where it outlived the Arab nationalist imaginary into which it was born. Fatah‘s actions, its armed struggle and propaganda, had inspired the people and contributed to make them in the fedayeen‘s image. It made Fatah the dominant Palestinian organization by legitimating its struggle at home and abroad.

IV) A STRUGGLE FOR IDENTITY & LEGITIMACY The identity of those we call Palestinians today underwent dramatic changes in the course of the twentieth century. ―If one takes identity as the answer to the question, ‗Who are you?‘,‖ writes Khalidi, ―it is clear that the response of the inhabitants of Palestine has changed considerably over time‖ (1997: viii). Early in the century, people in Palestine identified themselves and were identified by their peers with reference to family, clan, one‘s place of origin, or religion. These categories were common knowledge and more immediate than the abstract idea of a Syrian or an Arab people, not to talk about the concept of nation. Politically, they were all Ottoman subjects regardless of their social status. The advent of Arab nationalism would change this. People became Arabs from Palestine. Yet, the experience of the Nakba and the inability of Arab states to deliver them gave rise to Palestinianism, the idea that Palestinians, as such, had to be the vanguard of the Arab nation. It was in the name of this idea that Fatah waged its struggle and attempted to mobilize Palestinians. Over the years, however, the conceptual differentiation of Palestinians from other Arabs was to turn into a fault line of its own. Palestinianism made Palestinians into a distinct people within the Arab nation. But with the bankruptcy of Arab nationalism they emerged as Palestinians tout court – a nation in its own right with Fatah at its helm. The use of violence also put Fatah on the agenda of international politics. The emergence of the idea of a Palestinian people and the formative effects violence had on its image allowed Fatah to take control of the PLO. Under its leadership the PLO commanded broad popular support as it struck roots among the people. Its popular legitimacy had repercussions on the international level. With increasing legitimacy ―the image of the

Until December 1988, according to estimates, 626 Palestinians had been killed, 37 000 injured, and 35 000 arrested (Rogan 2011: 549). 359

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PLO held by a great majority of the governments and other actors, as ‗terrorists‘ changed‖ (Kirisci 1986: 8). Fatah/PLO became the legitimate representatives of a people in search for a state.

1) PALESTINIANS: TRANSFORMING POLITICAL IDENTITY Palestinians, in the sense of a people whose separate existence is acknowledged in speech and writing, did not exist until late. It was neither an analytic notion nor a practical one. At most, it represented a geographic category which became salient when the Mandate defined a territorial entity employing the historic name ―Palestine‖. This absence is reflected in the changing labels used to identify Palestine‘s indigenous population. In 1919, Palestinian politicians insisted that they were ―Syrians‖, since the lands of Palestine historically were part of Greater Syria. In 1922, after the formalization of the British Mandate of Palestine, official documents emphasized the Arab-ness of the people from Palestine. Litvak finds that phrases like ―the Arab people‖, ―the Arabs of Palestine‖, ―the Arab nation in Palestine‖, ―the Arab problem in Palestine‖, ―the Arabs who are the true owners of Palestine‖, or ―the Arab youth in Palestine‖ were regularly employed whereas the use of ―Palestinians‖ or ―Palestinian people‖ was ―extremely rare‖ (2009a: fn.7). For the British rulers, they first bore the label ―People of Palestine‖ and later, as the conflict with the Zionists escalated, they were recognized as ―Palestinian Arabs‖ (Rowland and Frank 2002: 123). Yet, this categorization hardly informed political action on the ground. In the beginning, the disturbances caused by what we may call ―anti-colonial patriotism‖ were lacking a political identity capable of providing a focal point for collective action. Resistance against Zionism was fragmented and disorganized. The collusion, if not outright collaboration, with the British authorities and Zionist groups are indicative of the absence of a shared understanding of the quality of the categorical opposition pitting the indigenous population against the settlers and their foreign backers. The conflict still needed to be infused with a commonly recognized meaning in order to transform it into one single opposition from which normative expectations for individual behavior could be derived. Although religion could have provided such a categorical distinction and meaning structure, Haj Amin al-Husseini‘s advances into that direction failed to obstruct the realization of the Zionist dream. Within Palestinian Arab society, political allegiance was still paid to smaller social units, foremost among them family or clan. The strife that erupted in the wake of the announced termination of the Mandate changed that. The war and defeat of 1948 threw the communal existence of the Arabs living in Mandate Palestine into disarray. Looking back, Khalidi asserts that ―1948 proved both a great leveler, and a source of a universally shared experience, especially for that half of Palestinian society which had fled or been expelled and had lost

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everything, and for those who were able to remain in their homes, but were also traumatized by the events of 1948‖ (1997: 194). The events contributed to break down the barriers that had permeated the Palestinian Arab society. The Nakba thus created a basis for the development of a Palestinian political identity (Sa‘di 2002). In its wake, ―Palestinians in the Diaspora, in the refugee camps, and under military occupation were forced to look inward to discover a new collective self-image and to formulate a response to the material conditions of exile, dispersion, and occupation‖ (Rowland and Frank 2002: 122). The consequences of this process were not without contradictions. Politically, their reaction was to put their faith in Arab unity rather than in anything resembling a Palestinian nationalism worth of the name. However, argues Litvak, ―the trauma of defeat and displacement‖ reinforced by ―the bitter encounter with and rejection by the neighboring Arab societies‖ led to the ―crystallization of a distinct Palestinian identity‖ (2009a: 103). Until the 1960s, the official self- and other-perceptions converged in presenting the struggle over Palestine as an Arab one. Indeed, the struggle over Palestine became the touchstone of the Arab-Israeli conflict and Palestinians were considered Arabs insofar they shared a single cultural space strongly influenced by Islam and with Arabic as dominant medium of communication. Although Arab nationalism had been around for many years, its adoption by the Palestinian refugees and the urge to emphasize their belonging to the Arab nation was almost a necessity. For one, Arab nationalism promised to ―multiply their limited forces and give them support from outside Palestine against the Israeli foe they knew from bitter experience to be far stronger than they were‖ (Khalidi 1997: 182). Perhaps more important still, Arabism allowed the integration of the community of those who had suffered from the creation of Israel and were now physically separated and politically emasculated. The idea of a single Arab nation was the smallest common denominator and their only hope to reverse the course of history – the community of believers, the ummah, having lost political clout by the abolition of the Caliphate in 1924, could only provide cosmological orientation and spiritual guidance. Palestinianism emerged in the space between the most concrete reality of family and place of origin as primary referents for identification and the most abstract idea of an Arab nation comprising millions. Palestinians, whether in Israel, Jordan, Gaza or abroad, came to share the experience of being considered collectively as different. The experience of victimization set them off from other Arabs. The defining trait of Palestinian refugees thus was not about culture but the longing to return to the lands they had lost. The urge to liberate – or better reconquer – Palestine defined Palestinians. This, as I have shown, did not so much concern those who had not fled – especially in the West Bank – but this gap was bridged by the integrative force of Arab nationalism and, later, by the Israeli occupation. The end result was the idea of the Palestinians as vanguard of the Arab nation in the struggle to redeem Palestine. First spelled out in the PLO Covenant, the distinctiveness of the so-called Arab Palestinian people was further concretized in 1968, once the fedayeen

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had taken control of organization. Fatah‘s Palestinianism projected a distinct identity for those Arabs with roots in Palestine west of the Jordan but one still firmly embedded in Arab nationalist ideology. The rise of Nasser had made Arab nationalism the dominant political identification among Palestinians. With the creation of the PLO and the coming out of Fatah, Palestinians became imagined as vanguard of the Arab nation, but they were still not considered a political community in its own right. The struggle for Palestine remained an Arab one since Palestinians were Arabs. But despite its calls to Arab unity, the PLO already suggested a Palestinian right to self-determination (see PLO 1964). Arab nationalism lost momentum at the Khartoum summit in 1967 when Nasser was forced to recognize the sovereignty of Arab states, the tide turned. In the aftermath of the June War, emphasizing the distinctiveness of Palestinians within the Arab nation became imperative. In fact, if Palestinians ―were not just generic Arabs, part of a larger Arab people with many wide lands to live in, who could and should go to the Arab countries where they belonged‖ but ―were a people whose identity was rooted in Palestine, then they had a much stronger claim … to this land in which the state of Israel had successfully established itself‖ (Khalidi 1997: 185, his emphasis). However, out of strategic considerations, the fedayeen-dominated PLO continued to present the struggle for Palestine in Arab nationalist terms. Whereas each of the categories employed in the past to describe the Palestinians had ―carried with it a nuance that separated the Arabs of Palestine from other Arabs and the Zionists,‖ it was only after 1968 that they emerged as Palestinians (Rowland and Frank 2002: 123). The recurrent escalation of violence provoked by the fedayeen in the name of the ideology of armed struggle forced Palestinians to recognize their distinctiveness. The initial successes in galvanizing the Arab world soon turned into a nightmare. The civil wars in Jordan and Lebanon were sobering experiences and the conflicts with their Arab hosts alienated the Palestinians from their Arab brethren. Somewhat unwittingly, the fedayeen blew off the Arab nationalist scaffold of the emerging Palestinianism. Having become a nuisance to Arab regimes the self-declared vanguards of the Arab nation were left to fend for themselves. In a few years‘ time, conclude Rowland and Frank, ―the perception and definition of the communal self changed and mutated … as the ‗Arabs of Palestine‘ became ‗Palestinian‘‖ (2002: 128). The political identity of Palestinians transformed and the widely shared Palestinianism emancipated itself from the dream of Arab unity. But only with the Intifada a territorialization of the struggle could be achieved which made self-determination feasible. Palestinianism so to speak materialized and transformed into a nationalism in its own right. Although the Nakba stands at the beginning of the processes that transformed Palestinian identity it was not sufficient to effect this transformation. The years that followed have been termed in the Palestinian

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historiography the ―lost years‖. Writes Kirisci: ―Prior to the 1967 war, it would have been very difficult to talk about a broad basis of national awareness among Palestinians, let alone support for the Palestinian cause, but in the immediate aftermath of the war the situation began to change significantly‖ (1986: 44). It was only due to the creation of the PLO in 1964 and the launching of the armed struggle by Fatah soon after that Palestinians were ―put … back on the political map of the Middle East‖ (Khalidi 1997: 27). The so-called lost years span the period between 1948 and the creation of the PLO in 1964. During these years the Palestinians all but vanished from the political stage. There were few signs indicating the existence of a specific Palestinian identity save for the presence of a huge refugee population. But some Palestinians already began organizing themselves: ―In the refugee camps, the workplace, the schools, and the universities where Palestinians congregated in the years after 1948, we find the beginnings, the pre-history as it were, of a new generation of Palestinian nationalist groups and movements which started clandestinely in the 1950s and emerged into the open in the mid-1960s‖ (Khalidi 1997: 179-80). Groups like the ANM and Fatah emerged. The circumstances were favorable to their undertakings. The decline of the traditional political elite went together with the Arab nationalist revival and an increase in the level of education. Because of the services provided by UNRWA, Palestinian refugees soon had the highest literacy rate in the Arab world after Lebanon (Khalidi 2006: 142). This was the environment in which Palestinian versions of Arab nationalism could flourish. The young activists from a middle class background ―ushered in an era of true mass politics, involving many more people in political activity than had been the case in the 1920s through the 1940s, the leadership stratum became far larger and broader‖ (2006: 142). The creation of the PLO was, among other things, a reaction to the felt need to direct the increasingly politicized Palestinian refugees. Meanwhile, Fatah‘s espousal of a ―Palestinian particularism‖ with which many Palestinians ―were both familiar and comfortable‖ helped it to gain ground at the expense of orthodox Arab nationalist formations like the ANM or the Baath Party (Khalidi 1997: 183). Its armed struggle helped it to achieve dominance over Palestinian politics after the June War of 1967 and under its lead the PLO now placed greater emphasis on ―the unique Palestinian part of the identity‖ (Rowland and Frank 2002: 125). Although the protests that erupted in reaction to the Israeli attack on Samu in November 1966 ―did not reflect a clear and distinct Palestinian political consciousness,‖ they displayed the politicization of a growing number of Palestinians (Taraki 1990. 55). The mobilization in support of the fedayeen that challenged the palace took a revolutionary Arab nationalist look. Indeed, as Shamir remarks, the Palestinian refugees are often described ―ardent, perhaps the most ardent, supporters of Arab unity‖ (1980: 153). His interviews from back in the day show that ―[h]owever firm the refugees‘ adherence to the vision of a unified pan-Arab political community … by the end of the 1960s real expectations had dwindled considerably‖ (1980: 154). Neither did they perceive

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Jordan as their political community since none of Shamir‘s respondents did refer to it as ―our country‖ or to its government as ―our government‖ (1980: 154). Yet, the idea of belonging to a Palestinian people – save for those politically active – remained ―an abstract and problematic notion‖ (Shamir 1980: 157). All that existed was a strong identification with the fedayeen. Writes Shamir: ―A refugee might have had doubts and reservations about the fedayeen‘s tactics and programs, refused to be involved in their actions, or rejected their claims to represent all Palestinians, but he would nevertheless deeply identified with them‖ (1980: 156). But the conservatism of the traditional West Bank elite and the dismal failure of Arafat‘s popular war of liberation in 1967 shifted the focus of the Palestinian struggle to the exile community. The unexpected success of Karameh breathed life into a lingering movement. The narrative surrounding the battle ―enabled the Palestinians to make sense of a troubled history which involved enormous efforts against great odds simply for them to maintain their identity as a people‖ (Khalidi 1997: 199). What is more, according to Baumgarten, Karameh stands for the constitutive or formative role the armed struggle would play in the development of a Palestinian political identity since it inaugurated a Palestinian reality centered on the fedayeen (1991: 262). Writes Gorenberg: ―Suddenly, pride replaced the stain of refugeehood. To be Palestinian meant being a fidai, a guerrilla, the new hero of an Arab world starved for heroes after the defeat of 1967‖ (2009). The image of the fedayeen, a fighter and revolutionary, became the embodiment of the genuine Palestinian if not of the Palestinian people as a whole (Baumgarten 1991: 189). The narrative was spread by the PLO communication channels, through newspapers and periodicals and other material provided by the PLO‘s publishing houses and research institutes, and especially its radio station Sawt Filastin, The Voice of Palestine (Khalidi 1997: 199-200). The events of the fall of 1970 revealed the contradictions inherent to the idea of Palestinians as vanguard of the Arab nation. The escalation of violence shook the construct of a political community defined by allegiance to the royal family to its very foundations. ―The use of military force demonstrated the absence of any uncoerced Jordanian identity inclusive of Palestinians, and thus increased the power of the PLO claim to represent a distinctive Palestinian identity‖ (Lynch 1999: 79). The interpretation of the violence as a neargenocide committed by the Jordanian Bedouin forces and the process of Jordanization that followed ―provided the impetus to Palestinians to … formulate an independent political agenda‖ (Taraki 1990: 58). Initially, Hussein‘s policy was not aimed at imposing a Transjordanian identity but sought to create ―a hybrid Jordanian identity for both communities‖ (Brand 1995: 50). The civil war changed the perception of Palestinians among Transjordanians. During the events of September they appeared as ―ungrateful or even potential or actual ‗traitors‘‖ (Sirriyeh 2000: 77). A process set in that clearly privileged ―the Trans-Jordanian

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part of the population, in preference to the Palestinians, including those of the East Bank, especially in the state‘s public sector, affecting the army, security services, universities and the general state apparatus‖ (Sirriyeh 2000: 77).

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―This East Banker versus Palestinian consciousness,‖ writes Sirriyeh, ―has been

developing since that time and has acquired greater proportions because of the Trans-Jordanian perception of the Palestinian demographic threat, their growing economic fortunes and the Palestinian perceived discrimination in the state‘s public sector.‖ (Sirriyeh 2000: 78). Starting 1968, the refugees were most receptive to the fedayeen and provided a vast pool of recruits and financial support. The popularity of the PLO was less pronounced in the OTs. The protests of 1966 and the 1970-1971 civil war notwithstanding, pro-Jordanian positions were still powerful as the elections of 1972 were to prove. The pragmatic choice under Israeli occupation was for a return to Jordan rather than to wait for the so-called Palestinian revolution. Nonetheless, the alienation from the East Bank made more and more West Bankers adopt Fatah‘s Palestinianism. In 1975, Rosemary Sayigh interviewed Palestinian refugees in several camps near Beirut. The statements she collected indicate that not only did Palestinians sense a difference separating them from other Arabs but also that this difference had a political dimension. She found that ―in describing the Palestinian people, more saw them as ‗different‘ from other Arabs than as ‗like‘ them‖ (1977: 11). Yet, the sources of this understanding of Palestinian difference varied across generations. Writes Sayigh: ―While the Palestinianism of older campers can be seen as partly due to closure, and the trauma of depatriation, that of the younger generation proceeds from a greater self-confidence. Interaction with other Arabs … has brought them back into the Arab circuit as a collectivity, as a people with its own contribution to make.‖ (1977: 11). The assertive Palestinianism of the youth also reflected a deep distrust of the actions and motives of Arab leaders and regimes. Nasser, by then, was widely criticized. The only political leaders that elicited admiration were Palestinians, first among them Arafat, who were said to ―live like the people‖ (Sayigh 1977: 9). Sayigh concludes that the PLO and the fedayeen movement had an important role in what she terms ―the emergence of political Palestinianism‖: ―undoubtedly the views of campers partly reflect the renaissance of Palestinian consciousness that accompanied the rise of the resistance movement, with all its ideological, literary and artistic manifestation‖ (1977: 11-12). The interviews led her to believe that Palestinianism is ―a more definite phenomenon today than, say, ten years ago, or than in 1948‖ (1977: 5). The perceptions among the refugees as to the boundaries of the Palestinian people remained obscure, though. Those living outside In the wake of the civil war, the new civilian government under Wasfi al-Tal purged the government‘s bureaucracy and military of all those considered pro-fedayeen. Large numbers of Palestinian officers and bureaucrats, and a number of Transjordanians, were dismissed from their jobs (see Massad 2008). 360

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the camps were not readily included and even less those who had stayed behind. The elevation of the PLO to the ―sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians‖ in 1984, by contrast, projected a single Palestinian people. As a result, the fate befalling one of its parts would be shared by all. The Lebanese civil war revealed once again the myth of Arab unity and underscored the bankruptcy of the idea of a Palestinian vanguard. The PLO had already begun to refocus on the OTs with its 1974 ―revolutionary authority‖ decision and the results of the elections in April 1976 were a ―most decisive indicator of the strong Palestinian national consciousness and pro-PLO sentiment in the occupied territories‖ (Kirisci 1986: 50). But were it not for the Intifada, the Palestinian struggle would have reached a dead end in the late 1980s. The uprising in the OTs ―impressed international public opinion, and, most importantly, convinced a sizeable number of Israelis that they could not indefinitely maintain the military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip‖ (Khalidi 1997: 201). More importantly, it became a paramount event for the Palestinians ―galvanizing a sense of community and nationhood…‖ (Kimmerling and Migdal 1994: 267-8, my emphasis). Although the fedayeen did not instigate the uprising their example was emulated by the young protesters. ―The ‗children of the stones‘,‖ writes Gorenberg, ―filled the role of Palestinians as fighters, rebels against their fate‖ (2009). Their motivation in the first place was to oppose the occupation but this effectively translated into ―a first step towards independence: the separation of the Palestinian community in the Territories from the Israeli economic and administrative systems‖ (Merari et al. 1989: 184). Those inside now took over the role of standard-bearers of Palestinianism but contrasting their forerunners outside they were in a position to realize self-determination in a part of Palestine. When researching the public mood in Gaza a year into the Intifada, Sara Roy found that refugees there were increasingly in favor of the two-state solution: ―People spoke directly about a resolution to the conflict based on recognition of the State of Israel and the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank and Gaza Strip‖ (1989: 74). And her interviews ―revealed that whatever their politics, refugees saw themselves not as party loyalists but as nationalists collectively engaged in a struggle for liberation under Arafat and the PLO‖ (Roy 1989: 70). The realization of an independent Palestinian state in the OTs was considered a ―paramount and overriding‖ goal (Roy 1989: 80).361 It was the experience of the Intifada that had made them into Palestinian nationalists: The creation of a national voice from inside the occupied territories was regarded as a significant personal and political achievement by all of the refugees interviewed. Successfully sustaining According to Roy, the ―confederation with Jordan was viewed as a necessary, albeit unpopular, prerequisite to the establishment of an independent state. Federation with Jordan, however, was completely rejected‖ (1989: 80). 361

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the intifadah was regarded as another. Refugees therefore felt that they had acquired a new, albeit limited, sense of control over their lives that not only challenged the ubiquity of Israeli rule but achieved tangible political results (e.g. declaration of a state, U.S. dialogue with the PLO, etc.) (Roy 1989: 74, her emphasis). Total liberation now made place to self-determination and state-building. But the territorialization and the radical shift in the balance of power from ―outside‖ to ―inside‖ left those outside Gaza and the West Bank in disarray. Palestinian nationalism exacerbated the fragmentation of the community of Arabs with roots in Palestine which had been concealed for several years by Arab nationalism and which the emerging Palestinianism had not managed to efface. Unwittingly the fedayeen pushed Palestinians to perceive themselves as Palestinians first and Arabs only second. The experience of expulsion, dispossession and occupation had fostered a sense of difference though one embedded into an Arab nationalist worldview. But in its desperate attempts to fulfill the role as vanguard of the Arab nation or simply to survive politically, the fedayeen alienated other Arabs. Their armed struggle revealed time and again the myth of a single Arab nation. The demise of the Arabist dimension of Fatah‘s Palestinianism led to a somewhat awkward self-understanding: ―To be a Palestinian was also to be an Arab, but yet to be differentiated from Arabs‖ with ―Arab‖ constituting ―a particular form of ‗other‘‖ (Lindholm Schulz 1999: 125-6). As a DFLP sympathizer stated in an interview: The 1990s are not the 1960s or 50s. We are in a very different era … So, if in the past, the common thing was the first, and the particular was the second, in the 1970s, 80s and 90s, it‘s the particular that takes the first priority. Do not expect us to think nation-wise, I mean panArabism, while the Arabs are ignoring the Palestinians. They are the reason for our suffering. …. when it comes to their way, how they behave, how they treat us, how they deal with us, it‘s almost impossible for us to admit being part of them (quoted in Lindholm Schulz 1999: 125-6). The political identity that came on the heels of Palestinianism was determined by the life as refugees and the struggle waged by the fedayeen. When Palestinians emerged as Palestinians they did so in the image of a steadfast and combative people. Writes Lindholm Schulz: ―A Palestinian ‗is‘ someone who resists, either with a Kalashnikov or an RPG in the squalid camps of Lebanon, or with stone and Molotov cocktails in Gaza, and/or someone who suffers because of dispossession, longing, injustice and death‖ (1999: 123-4). The fedayeen imposed a normative template for what it meant to be a Palestinian. Gorenberg, who endeavored to understand why there was no ―Palestinian Gandhi‖, was told by a librarian in Hebron lending books on Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King: ―If I say I am against armed struggle, it means I am not a good Palestinian.‖ (2009). A Fatah leader confirmed this, stating in an interview: ―While I am struggling against the occupation I am a Palestinian‖ (interview of 29 October 1994, quoted in Lindholm Schulz 1999: 121-2). The idea of struggling according to Lindholm Schulz is nowadays perhaps the ―most substantial

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representation‖ of Palestinian national identity (1999: 121-2). It is ―the strategy through which to transcend the denial, the conditions of the present and reach the future, the state. ‗Struggle‘ has persisted as the main means to overcome the process of victimisation and to transcend the current state of dispossession, denial and statelessness‖ (Lindholm Schulz 1999: 121-2). The combativeness of Palestinianism, in other words, helped define the boundaries of the nation by prescribing an antagonistic behavior toward the Other, whether Arab or Israeli. This image has been produced and reproduced ―in political messages, the culture of martyrs, pictures in newspapers and magazines of the Palestinian prototype carrying a weapon, poetry, folk culture, sings and graffiti of someone who struggles, who fights, who resists – activities which are all bound to result in suffering‖ (Lindholm Schulz 1999: 123). The idea of martyrdom popularized by the fedayeen was transposed to the Intifada and ―became the means to make legendary the acts of children of the stone‖ (Kimmerling and Migdal 1994: 263). Posters of youthful victims were carried in rallies and posted on the walls while the families of martyrs received special honors. The start of the ―Palestinian Revolution‖ – dated 1 January 1965 – was declared a national holiday. Its annual commemoration stressed the theme of revolutionary armed struggle conferring a historical dimension by displaying symbols like the Palestinian flag, weapons, traditional dresses and uniforms first among them the Hatta or Kufiya made popular by Arafat (Baumgarten 1991: 23). In the wake of the Intifada, many other national holidays or memorial days promoting national heroes were to follow. According to Litvak, the Palestinian calendar has incorporated since 1967 at least seventeen official national and memorial days which are exclusively dedicated to events in the twentieth century starting with the Balfour Declaration. That all but five of these holidays are linked directly to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict underline, according to her, ―its centrality in the evolution of Palestinian nationalism‖ (2009a: 109). The way that the armed struggle and the suffering were framed highlighted Palestinian combativeness and established historic continuity. A well-rehearsed theme of official statements since the 1960s was that of a ―crushing failure‖ which once again had been ―surmounted and survived‖ (Khalidi 1997: 194). Adapted to the circumstances at hand, it fostered a narrative of ―identity as a triumph‖ over military defeat and betrayal (Khalidi 1997: 194). The contemporary events were then put in analogy to seemingly similar episodes of the Mandate period: ―The martyrdom of Shaykh ‗Iz al-Din al-Qassam in 1935, the revolt of 1936-39, as well as the fighting in 1947-49 were all presented in heroic terms as popular movements against heavy odds but which were betrayed by the elite or Arab states‖ (Khalidi 1997: 1995-7).362 Together with the first Palestinian fedayeen operating in Gaza during 1955-1956, these stories were harnessed for present day use by

Khalidi (1997: 195) claims that this narrative was born during the Mandate although it was only in the mid-1960s that it came into full force. 362

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reinterpreting them as genuine Palestinian contributions to the wars of national liberation waged by the peoples of the Third World against colonialism (Baumgarten 1991: 181-2). PLO/Fatah thus managed to turn military weakness and defeat into an unlikely political triumph. Repeated victimization framed as a distinctively Palestinian experience made Arabs from Palestine into Palestinians. Being a Palestinian meant struggling – against Israel in the first place but also against co-optation and oppression by reactionary Arab regimes. It is ironic to see that Fatah‘s ideology of popular armed struggle which erected the Palestinians as a vanguard of the Arab nation provoked the demise of the Arab nationalist referent. The frame used to make sense of the violent clashes brought about by the fedayeen determined the normative content of Palestinianism. With the idea of a single Arab nation revealed as a myth, Fatah‘s Palestinianism stood alone ready to usher in an era of Palestinian nationalism. The fallout of this process would materialize in the OTs and create a veritable Palestinian nationalism with as its goal a Palestinian state in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank and with East Jerusalem as its capital. Indeed Arafat had argued that Palestinians had to fix their identity in order to make them struggle for the liberation of Palestine as Palestinians, but this was meant to allow them to fulfill their role in what was considered an Arab struggle. The Palestinian people, as article 21 of the Charter read, were to ―express‖ themselves ―by the armed Palestinian revolution.‖ Yet, Fatah‘s Palestinianism had also a political dimension for it required a Palestinian leadership. The idea of Palestinians as vanguard required Fatah and later the PLO to ―make‖ Palestinians. Their political legitimacy would depend on it. The Palestinians, in other words, had to adopt if not internalize Fatah‘s ideology in order to lend legitimacy to its program and secure it leadership (Baumgarten 1991: 170-1). Fixing Palestinian identity meant shaping Palestinian self-understanding in the image of the fedayeen. And Fatah extensively ―utilized the image of the refugee and the icon of the freedom fighter in an attempt to establish itself as the authentic representative of the Palestinian people. …‖ (Jamal 2005: 18). This process, as I have shown, was made possible by the ideology and practice of popular armed struggle. It rallied the Palestinians around a common political project and thus secured Fatah a predominant role in Middle Eastern politics for several decades.

2) LEGITIMIZING THE PALESTINIAN STRUGGLE ABROAD Fatah‘s armed struggle had succeeded in changing the world‘s perception of the conflict from a refugee problem as which it had been addressed since 1948 into a question of self-determination. The armed struggle of the fedayeen helped to present the PLO as a national liberation movement and as part of the worldwide struggle of Third World peoples for emancipation and against colonialism, racism, and imperialism. Arab

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nationalist rhetoric notwithstanding, Arabs with roots in Palestine emerged as a people whose right to selfdetermination had been not only ignored but trampled upon by the creation of Israel and the massive expulsion of Arabs. Hence, their armed struggle was legitimate insofar it seemed to be an act of collective self-defense. In fact, as I have shown above, the ambiguities introduced into international law by the recognition of the right to self-determination of colonized people and stateless nations can be construed as permitting the use of armed force by non-state actors in struggles for national liberation. If further proof was needed to argue the Palestinian cause, the Israeli occupation and, more importantly, their recurrent victimization, though all too often provoked by fedayeen actions, shaped the perception of Palestinians as a nation in desperate search for a state. Couched in the language of self-determination the PLO‘s struggle gained international legitimacy; and, in the 1970s, support for the Palestinian cause was not confined to the Arab world anymore. Placing the fedayeen actions in the master frame of self-determination and anti-colonialism secured the PLO widespread support from among former colonies. At a time when the community of states grew because of the dismantlement of European colonial Empires, the so-called Question of Palestine reappeared on the agenda of the United Nations. At the General Assembly a growing number of delegations from former colonies, who had waged armed struggles for independence themselves, were all too ready to cast their votes in support of a fellow liberation movement. In 1974, the PLO was granted an observer status at the UN – an unprecedented form of recognition for an organization openly advocating armed struggle. The armed struggle and the mobilizational effect it has had among Palestinians now were rewarded with international legitimacy. Not trying to mince her words, the former US Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick argues that Arafat ―understood the propaganda value of the violent deed‖ and, she pursues, ―the central tactic of the PLO is and has been to use the arenas and instrumentalities of diplomacy – and public relations to achieve legitimacy, and then to use legitimacy to win territory‖ (Kirkpatrick 1989: 21). Lacking the military capacity to alter the status quo, the PLO used its weakness to assert the Palestinian‘s right as a people by repeatedly provoking an escalation of violence. In its early days, Fatah‘s diplomacy pursued two goals. On the one hand, there was the goal of achieving predominance in the PLO. This, they sensed, would allow them to secure Arab support since the PLO was the creation of the Arab League and enjoyed a high level of commitment among its members. On the other hand, Fatah sought to establish bilateral contacts with Arab states other than Syria and Algeria in order to consolidate the organization (Cobban 1984: 45). The 1967 War and Karameh were game changers, and the majority of Arab regimes began to move toward alliances with Fatah. Nasser, in particular, played an important role when he threw his political weight behind Fatah and promoted its taking over the PLO. He introduced the

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Fatah leadership to the Soviets on a visit to Moscow in the summer of 1968 and provided weapons (Cobban 1984: 45-6). Arafat‘s new position as Chairman of the PLO since 1969 gave him a standing he would not have enjoyed as mere guerrilla leader – especially as a vanquished one. The control of the PLO and Arafat‘s reputation helped to established durable links with Arab regimes that worked as Fatah‘s a safety net for hard time (Cobban 1984: 54). Only King Hussein and the successive Presidents of Lebanon opposed the PLO. In spite of their support of anti-Zionism and attempts to accommodate the fedayeen, they perceived in them a threat to their regimes. Hussein in particular had to fear the PLO because of the demographic structure of his Kingdom. In both countries, as we have seen, the conflict between the fedayeen and the government escalated into bloody civil wars. But the PLO survived, belying the pundits who already had written them off (Cobban 1984: 53). To a great extent this happened because of the legitimacy Fatah and the fedayeen had acquired among the Palestinians and the recognition of a Palestinian people by the Arab states. What is more, the string of military defeats in the 1970s was accompanied by a series of unlikely diplomatic victories. In the early 1970s the standing of the Palestinian cause in the international area rose to unexpected prominence and even so-called acts of international terrorism did not hurt the PLO‘s ascent. That Palestinians were Palestinians – rather than Arabs – was by now widely acknowledged. Terrorism provided the fedayeen with a wider audience and brought international recognition insofar Western governments began negotiating with them. Great Britain, for instance, in 1970 exchanged air pirate Layla Khalid and others against its citizens kept in Jordan (see Rubin 1991). At times, public opinion was even split in its judgment. As Carré remembers with regard to the hijackings of 1970: ―L‘opinion occidentale … est scandalisée par le terrorisme international mais trop frappée par l‘impasse où se trouve la conscience palestinienne pour oser recourir à de telles actions‖ (1980: 34). But the sympathy was shattered by the international outrage over the heinous nature of murderous operations like the 1972 attacks on the Munich Olympics. Whatever the precise impact of these acts on Western audiences and world opinion, it was the armed struggle that secured the PLO international recognition. Since 1969, resolutions at the United Nations General Assembly ―referring, in one form or the other, to the political rights of the Palestinians began to receive majority votes‖ (Kirisci 1986: 8). For the first time, UNGA Resolution 2535 B of 1969 mentioned Palestinians in their quality as a people rather than mere refugees and affirmed their ―inalienable rights‖ (United Nations 1969). A year later, Palestine was mentioned as a case of denied self-determination and compared to ―southern Africa,‖ and the struggle for self-determination ―by any means at their disposal‖ was declared legitimate (United Nations 1970a). This framing of the Palestinian struggle benefited the PLO and in November 1974 it was to reap an extraordinary diplomatic victory. Five

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years after having re-introduced the ―Palestinian Question‖ on its agenda, the twenty-ninth General Assembly session voted to grant the PLO observer status at the UN (United Nations 1974a). Shortly after, Arafat was invited to New York in order to address the UN in his role as Chairman of the PLO. This confirmed PLO‘s role as legitimate representative of the Palestinian people and highlighted its authority as a state-in-becoming. This step endorsed on the international level the earlier Arab League decision to grant full recognition to the PLO. At the Seventh Arab League Summit, held in Rabat the month before, the PLO was declared the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people wherever they were dwelling. This had been preceded by some diplomatic wrangling because of Jordan‘s opposition but now it was official: King Hussein‘s claim to speak on behalf of the Palestinians was rejected.363 Other international organizations like the Islamic Conference Organization (ICO), the Organization for African Unity (OAU), and the Non-Aligned Movement – all comprising a majority of Third World countries – had already recognized the Palestinians or immediately followed suit.364 Several individual governments did not simply recognize the PLO as the representative of the Palestinians but went ahead to grant its staff varying degrees of diplomatic status. The benefits were considerable. ―This newly acquired legitimacy and status as an actor in world politics gave the PLO the opportunity to work directly with a large number of governments and international organizations and enabled it to increase the salience of the Palestinian issue to a variety of actors‖ (Kirisci 1986: 8). The international recognition of the PLO as sole representative of the Palestinian people also had a feedback effect. It helped consolidating PLO‘s power among Palestinians. The popularity of Fatah‘s Palestinianism among Palestinians was favorable to the PLO‘s international legitimation, but this, in turn, strengthened its standing at home. It was to secure its survival in the face of the disaster in Lebanon and the internal divisions of the early 1980s. The Intifada was to salvage the PLO and the Palestinian struggle in its entirety. Quite unexpectedly the Palestinians reoccupied the moral highground and earned the world‘s sympathies. Writes Merari et al.: ―The greatest source of pressure on the Israeli government and military authorities during the first weeks of the uprising was, probably, international criticism, especially American public opinion as reflected by media coverage. At that time, criticism was mainly aimed at the ‗trigger happiness‘ of Israeli troops that resulted in fatalities among demonstrators and rioters‖ (1989: 183).

In November 1973 the Arab League had already voted a secret resolution to the effect of recognizing the PLO as the ―sole representative of the Palestinian people‖ about which Jordan had expressed its reservations. 363

At the 1974 Heads of State Summit of the OAU endorsed for the first time its support for the PLO as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people. Since then the organization in its resolutions would make a distinction between the Israeli-Arab conflict and the right of the Palestinians to self-determination, given that they were considered a nation (Peters 1992: 104-5). In 1973, the PLO was recognized by the Non-Aligned Movement at the fourth summit in Algiers as ―a legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.‖ Also, Palestine became member of the ICO in 1969 already. 364

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The change in tactics toward beatings, supposed to be non-lethal but inflicting severe injuries nonetheless, and Rabin‘s infamous order to ―break their bones‖ (quoted in Kimmerling and Migdal 1994: 266) only contributed to harm Israel‘s reputation and stirred domestic criticism. The Palestinian leadership was all too aware of this, and it ―declared time and again that the organization had ordered the population in the Territories to refrain from armed attacks‖ (Merari et al. 1989: 191). The sacrifices born by Gazans and West Bankers in combination with victimization at the hands of Israeli forces impressed the world: ―The youthful martyrs of the West Bank seem to prove the PLO‘s point: that the Palestinians are David and Israel is a heartless Goliath‖ (Kirkpatrick 1989: 21). Once again victimization yielded a political victory, and though it appears cynical, alternatives were scarce. From the vantage point of principled opposition to the Palestinian struggle, Kirkpatrick sensed the political logic of the Intifada and complained that ―Both Americans and Israelis have been slow to understand that terrorist attacks are self-consciously political acts, and that the intifada is less an armed uprising than a political melodrama staged daily for credulous Western viewing audiences whose sympathies are quicker than their comprehension‖ (Kirkpatrick 1989: 21, her emphasis). Indeed the Intifada was skillfully harnessed by the PLO to justify a new political agenda based on the idea of two states in historic Palestine. The acceptance of partition, first suggested by the Peel Commission and later by the UN in resolution 181, was ―a radical departure from past PLO policies‖ (Rogan 2011: 547). When in November 1988 the nineteenth PNC held in Algiers voted the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, international recognition followed with 84 countries giving full recognition to the Palestinian state-in-waiting and many more granting the PLO diplomatic status (Rogan 2011: 548). Yet, what is now known as the ―the road to Oslo‖ and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA) would still be torturous not least because Arafat made the ill-fated decision to support Saddam Hussein in his standoff with the international community and the United States over his invasion of Kuwait. The multilateral Madrid conference in 1991, initiated by the US, brought Palestinians back into the international fold – although as members of the Jordanian delegation and barring those affiliated with the PLO or living in annexed East Jerusalem. The door to international diplomacy was, however, wide open, and the secretive talks between envoys of the PLO and Israel facilitated by Norway in 1993 were eventually crowned by success. In the fall of 1993 and the summer of 1994, the so-called Oslo Accords were signed under the auspices of President Clinton. The Palestinians seemed to be on the road to a state in the OTs. The demise of this dream, the process of its failure, and the reasons for it are a different story that has been told elsewhere. What imports here is that the idea of a Palestinian nation with a right to self-determination in the territories occupied by Israel in June 1967 is now widely accepted, which makes its continued denial even harder to bear for the Palestinians. The catastrophe of the Nakba has been compounded by the drama of denied statehood.

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SUMMARY Under the impression of the Nakba and disappointed by the incompetent performance of the Arab states in their attempts to redeem Palestine, Fatah set out to mobilize Palestinians. The refugees had to take their fate into their own hands if they were to realize their dream of return. Palestinians had to become the vanguard of the Arab nation. They had to lead the Arab masses in the battle against Zionist usurpation. Yet, in order to fulfill that role Arabs from Palestine had to become Palestinians. They had to be mobilized as Palestinians, the Arab people with the greatest stakes in the struggle over Palestine. Fatah ideology was Arab nationalism in form but Palestinian in content – Palestinianism was born. Its armed strategy, before being directed against Israel, was aimed, first, at its Palestinian constituency and, second, at the Arab populations. This was to provide Fatah/PLO with leverage over the Arab regimes and secured it a role in regional politics. From a position of weakness and bereft of infrastructure, Fatah used armed force hoping to reap political benefits. Its armed provocations repeatedly escalated violence. The results were stunning. It put Fatah on the political map and made Palestinians rally behind it. The legitimacy it thereby gained allowed it to survive political failure and military disasters time and time again. But the more this strategy was used to force Arab states to take a pro-Palestinian stance the more it alienated Arabs from the Palestinian cause. The integration of Arabs from Palestinian into neighboring states was already obstructed by their status as refugees and, later, Israeli occupation. Since its inception in 1964, the PLO had had a difficult relationship with King Hussein. However, it was the Israeli raid on Samu in late 1966 that brought things to a head. After 1967 and with Fatah in command, the PLO began to fall out with one Arab ruler after another, always claiming its rights as vanguard of the Arab nation. The Battle of Karameh was celebrated as an Arab victory, but in essence it was a Palestinian victory. And when Fatah/PLO got involved in domestic conflicts, as in Jordan and Lebanon, it was as a party in its own right. By alienating the host populations the ultimate goal of an all-Arab mobilization receded into a distance. Palestinianism, short of creating a vanguard, defined Palestinians as different from other Arabs. After initial successes – especially with regard to the Palestinians – Fatah‘s strategy provoked clashes that rather deepened the fragmentation of the Arab nation. Palestinians had to recognize that unity was a myth. At the same time, however, the clashes the Palestinian armed struggle provoked made Palestinians realize their difference as a people. The armed struggle, in the name of a Palestinian vanguard, made Arabs from Palestine experience victimization as Palestinians. As dramatic as the recurrent episodes of escalating

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violence might have been for them: it was the violence that the fedayeen provoked that defined their existence as Palestinians, as a people apart. Throughout the years, violence thus became a substitute for the educational functions the state and its institutions usually perform in shaping the nation. The events I have analyzed above are critical moments in that regard. The episodes of escalating violence were shocks that defined people‘s self-understanding as being different from other Arabs, and they gradually formed a Palestinian political identity. Staunch defenders of the Zionist cause, like Jeane Kirkpatrick, complained that the PLO had ―created a people where there was none; an issue where there was none; a claim where there was none‖ (1989: 28). Like Golda Meir‘s statement twenty years earlier, this was not completely wrong. No doubt, there had been an issue with Zionism and an indigenous population overwhelmed by Jewish immigration – what Fatah/PLO did, however, was to make the conflict politically salient by fostering Palestinian peoplehood. Its armed struggle defined what Palestinians were, that is, those whose lives had been upended in one way or another by the creation of Israel. Under the leadership of Fatah/PLO, Palestinians emerged as a separate party to the Arab-Israeli conflict. It commanded the allegiance of a people that the world now identified as Palestinians. The emergence of a Palestinian people under Fatah/PLO‘s leadership had also repercussions on the international level. The PLO gained the status as sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians. Palestine became conceived of as a case of unfulfilled national self-determination. It eased the PLO‘s long march through the UN and brought it recognition by other international organizations. The political identity forged by the armed struggle withstood internal conflicts in the 1970s and internecine strife in the 1980s. Most importantly, it proved impossible to drive a wedge between those inside the OTs and those outside. Repeated attempts to promote an alternative leadership to the PLO failed. As a former IDF officer and close observer of the developments noted somewhat frustrated in 1985: ―Despite … fundamental difference, the West Bank has not produced any Palestinian leaders of recognized stature, and its local leadership has bowed consistently to PLO …‖ (Shalev 1985: xiv). Even the Intifada did not break the PLO‘s monopoly over Palestinian politics – at least in the short term. Hopes to the contrary, voiced by the then- US Secretary of State George Shultz, notwithstanding (1993: 1017). Israel and its Western allies did not find Palestinian partners ready to distance themselves from the PLO and its ideology of a single Palestinian people with a right to self-determination, that is, a state of its own.365

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The idea was to negotiate a limited autonomy solution for the OTs while leaving the PLO and Arafat in the cold.

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However, until the late 1980s, the most fundamental paradox of the Palestinian struggle remained unresolved. The Palestinians continued to frame their struggle in Arab nationalist terms. Lacking a distinctively Palestinian nationalism, it was in a peace treaty between the Arab states, on the one hand, and the Israeli state, on the other, that the solution to the conflict had to be found. Indeed, Palestine had been at the heart of what was known as the Arab-Israeli conflict. For all these years, the Palestinians themselves had insisted that their struggle was an Arab one and that Arab unity was bound to the liberation of Palestine. More to the point, they became the most ardent defenders of Arab nationalism at a time when, across the Arab world, concerns for watan and qawm were increasingly perceived as contradicting each other. For the Palestinians both remained perfectly compatible, but their fervor alienated Arab regimes and even the populations of their host countries. It took the Intifada to bring that rift into the open. The Intifada led the Palestinians to emancipate from Arab nationalism. Fatah‘s Palestinianism, rather than catalyzing the Arab-Israeli conflict as initially envisaged, transformed it into an Israeli-Palestinian one. The Intifada made Palestinians emerge as a nation, affirming through action a collective longing for a state. As people began to act following the script of Palestinianism, their peoplehood was instantiated. Now, they presented the world with a nationalism of their own. Palestinians thus became a nation – a nation whose political identity is constituted by a collective imaginary produced by years of armed struggle. In spite of crushing setbacks and the fragmented nature of the Palestinian community, a national consciousness had risen throughout the experience of victimization. In the wake of the Intifada, even Israel had to accept that there was a Palestinian nation, a people that had constituted itself as a political community and would not dilute into the Arab masses. The negotiations in the early 1990s and in particular the so-called Oslo Process led to the creation of the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the Gaza Strip and parts of the West Bank; Israel granted the PLO full recognition. Although still far from achieving sovereign statehood in the OTs, for the PLO and Arafat this was an achievement in itself. ―Its significance was that the Palestinians now constituted a ‗somebody‘ in the eyes of others…‖ (Lindholm Schulz 1999: 121). Yet, this success of PLO/Fatah‘s otherwise ineffective armed struggle had its downsides. Palestinian nationalism divided the Palestinians into those outside and those inside with the latter‘s nationalism being accused of compromising the ultimate goal of return. Whereas the demand for a Palestinian state in the OTs was pragmatic, since Israel was there to stay, for the refugees abroad it meant the end of a dream. Their fate had hinged on Arab unity for only this was likely to bring total liberation, that is, the destruction of Israel. Now, with Palestinian nationalism a reality, they found themselves left out from the national project of a Palestinian

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state (not to talk about those in Jordan and Israel proper whose potential to become an object of a Palestinian irredenta has been downplayed). As Frisch remarks: ―As politics gravitated towards Judea and Samaria [i.e., the West Bank] and Gaza, the broader political community of Palestinians living beyond the borders of immediate contestation between Israel and the Palestinians withered and their influence shrivelled‖ (2009: 257). After so many years during which the Palestinian struggle was waged by those outside, now, the ones within have taken the lead. The erstwhile integration of a divided population, achieved by declaring them members of the wider Arab nation, has been shattered by the political success of Fatah‘s Palestinianism, however unintentionally this was. In fact, the emergence of a Palestinian nationalism is an ambiguous feat; since, although its very existence is now accepted, it deepened the division within this imagined community. What is more, the realization of sovereign statehood, even for the price of renouncing the right of return, is nowadays more unlikely than ever. Nonetheless, that Fatah‘s armed struggle in the name of Palestinianism ushered in a Palestinian nation in itself is no small achievement.

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CHAPTER FIVE: Albanians from Kosovo into Kosovo Albanians: The KLA’s Armed Struggle and the Transformation of Albanian Political Identity

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INTRODUCTION The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) realized an unprecedented exploit. As the 1990s were drawing to a close, this secretive organization, in almost no time, rose from the shadows to becoming a major political force in the escalating conflict over Kosovo.366 Its raucous strategy of armed struggle helped it to secure not only domestic but also international legitimacy and thus the support required to wrest Kosovo away from Serbian sovereignty. Its combative stance seduced Kosovo‘s Albanians and aided to engage the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), the world‘s most powerful military alliance, in the struggle against Belgrade‘s rule. In the summer of 1999, about one and a half years after the KLA had first announced its existence, the Serbian security forces and Yugoslav Army units were forced to withdraw from Kosovo. The Kosovo, although still under international tutelage, now came under Albanian-majority rule. Benefitting from its political status at home and abroad, the KLA‘s victory propelled its commanders into leading positions in the war‘s aftermath. The declaration of independence of the Republic of Kosovo in February 2008 would see former fighters at the helm of the newborn state. However, initially the KLA‘s goal was not limited to the liberation of Kosovo. Its struggle was launched in the name of Greater Albania, the unification of all Albanian lands in the region. Historically, Kosovo is considered by some as the cradle of ―the real Albanian nationalism‖ (Kola 2003: 394). There is some truth to this claim, and it is also true that Albanians from other regions of Yugoslavia have been far less assertive than those from Kosovo. Hence, not unlike the role Palestinians were supposed to play for Arab nationalism, Kosovo‘s Albanians were imagined as vanguard of the Albanian nation. In the end, however, the war, brought about by the KLA, rather than paving the way to unification, strengthened Kosovar particularism – a process that set off in the early 1980s and culminated in the fall of 1990 with the first declaration of a Kosovo Republic within Yugoslavia. Kosovo became the second Albanian political entity in the Balkans, with its own government, state institutions, and regalia. The somewhat arbitrary boundaries of the former Yugoslav Autonomous Region and later Province now define the borders of the

Spelled Kosovo (stressed on the first syllable) by the Serbs, Albanians call it Kosovë, or more usually with the definite article added, Kosova (the stress is on the second syllable). The official Serbian name for Kosovo is KOSMET – for Kosovo and Metohija, referring to the eastern and western parts of Kosovo‘s territory respectively. The issue of the name of the province and of its towns and districts, which often have differing Albanian and Serbian names, is a political issue. For reasons of convenience and in line with the general usage in the English-speaking literature I use the name Kosovo to refer to the territory of the former which is claimed nowadays by the semi-sovereign Republic of Kosovo. With regard to smaller towns or villages I follow the convention to state both, the Serbian and Albanian names, where they differ. As for names, I use an anglicized spelling. 366

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quasi-sovereign Republic of Kosovo.367 Although Albanian nationalists loathe admitting it, this newborn state also circumscribes a distinct political identity. Albanians from Kosovo hold their own version of Albanian nationalism. It is an identity shaped in crucial ways by the KLA‘s armed struggle. This should not come as a surprise. What nowadays is called ―the Albanian nation‖ never constituted a single polity, save for the Second World War under the Axis occupation. The Albanian state, declared in November 1912, excluded large sections of those considered by Albanian nationalists as ethnic Albanians. Today, roughly three and a half million Albanians live in Albania proper. More than ninety percent of Kosovo‘s two million inhabitants are ethnic Albanians. In Macedonia they constitute about a quarter of the population. There they are about half a million, concentrated in the western valleys bordering Albania and Kosovo and in the capital Skopje. Another 60 000 Albanians are said to live in Montenegro and slightly more in Preshevo, Medvedja, and Bujanovac, three municipalities in the Morava Valley in southern Serbia.368 Separated from the motherland, Kosovo‘s Albanians were formed by distinct experiences. Life in Yugoslavia, the constitution of Kosovo as an Albanian homeland within Yugoslavia‘s territorial-administrative division, the isolationism of Enver Hoxha‘s Albania that made communication across the border difficult, the struggle in the later 1980s and early 1990s and, most importantly, the war and its aftermath – all this set Kosovo‘s Albanians apart from other Albanians in the region. Although Albanians tend to argue that there is only one Albanian nationalism, the years of political struggle for Albanian emancipation within Yugoslavia left their imprint on Kosovo-Albanian political identity. It was a formative experience that distinguished Kosovars. ―The distinctiveness of the Kosova Albanian‘s identity,‖ writes Kullashi, ―has been shaped through street demonstrations and strikes, through apartheid-like conditions of life, through violence and the resistance against this violence‖ (2005: 22). The war in the later 1990s crucially contributed to this. It thoroughly transformed the political identity Kosovo‘s Albanian population had developed in the two preceding decades. The developments since the war have worked to further strengthen the case for a Kosovar political identity. While Albanian-ness is still dominant in speech and symbols and Kosovars share a cultural space with other The veto-power of Russia and China still denies the Republic of Kosovo UN-membership status and, by the time of writing, five EU member states, namely, Cyprus, Greece, Romania, Slovakia, and Spain, have not recognized Kosovo‘s sovereignty. 367

The presence of an Albanian minority in Greece is a contested issue because those ethnically close to Albanians do not identify with the Albanian nation (e.g., the Avranites) while others, like the Muslim Cham Albanians, fled after the Second World War facing reprisals for their collaboration with the Axis powers. 368

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Albanians in the region, there exists a distinctive Kosovo-Albanian political arena centered on the Republic of Kosovo with its own institutions, symbols, and commemorations. It defines an intellectual as well as emotive framework through which politics are interpreted and made sense of. As I will show, nowadays, there is a specifically Kosovar Albanian nationalism that is defined, above all, by the experiences of the 1990s. In political terms, today, Albanians from Kosovo are Kosovar before being Albanian.369 The KLA‘s armed struggle, somewhat unintentionally, promoted the nascent Kosovo-Albanian identity. In fact, it was the key to its success. The KLA‘s political victory, so I argue, was due to the political legitimacy it gained by transforming the political identity of Kosovo‘s Albanians. As the conflict escalated it became clear that laying low was not an option anymore. Kosovars realized ―that their lives would be completely disrupted, if not terminated altogether, if they did not do something dramatic: embrace the KLA‖ (Perritt 2008: 56). The popular reaction projected the self-image of a combative and uncompromising people, contrasting with the earlier image of Kosovo Albanians as peaceful resisters. The meaning of being Albanian in Kosovo changed. This, in turn, allowed the KLA to take advantage of the international outrage over the human rights abuses committed by Serbian security forces. By escalating violence the KLA compensated for its military weakness with political gains. It first induced and then exploited the repression meted out by the security forces. Using its limited military capacity it aggravated the conflict in order to attract attention and build political support in Kosovo and abroad. It is next to certain that by military means alone it would never have been able to overcome the combined might of the Serbian security forces and the Yugoslav Army. The calculated sacrifice eventually paid off. This development was not foreordained. In the beginning the odds were not in favor of the KLA. At first, people tended to perceive the shadowy KLA as a nuisance. The armed assaults of a few militants threatened to deteriorate the already tense situation. People feared that it would only justify ever greater levels of repression by the authorities. Since the early 1990s when the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY) fell apart and bloody wars ravaged Croatia and Bosnia-Herzegovina, President Ibrahim Rugova had stressed the dangers of an escalation of the conflict in Kosovo.

Where I refer to Kosovo‘s Albanian majority I use Albanian, ethnic Albanians, Kosovo Albanians, and Kosovar interchangeably. As Judah points out in his seminal book on the war over Kosovo (2002: xix), Kosovar, technically speaking, should refer to anyone living on the territory of Kosovo, irrespective of his ethnic background. Yet, it has come to be used as shorthand for Kosovo Albanians. And Albanians from Kosovo usually prefer to be referred to as Albanians – especially by Albanians from Albania. Although one might argue that there are Kosovars who are ethnically Serb (and of course not to forget the other official non-Albanian ethnic groups present), my usage follows the widespread intuition that it is the Albanians who own Kosovo by their sheer number. Where I refer to Albanians from Albania proper that is the Republic of Albania or the former People‘s Republic of Albania I make this explicit. 369

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What is more, in order to convince the people in Kosovo that it was the right agency to lead the resistance against Belgrade the KLA had to overcome the dominance of President Rugova‘s Democratic League of Kosovo (LDK). In trying to avoid a violent escalation of the conflict in Kosovo it had successfully advocated a program of civil disobedience against Serb oppression. Under Rugova‘s influence the political identity of Kosovo‘s Albanians was defined by an appraisal of democratic values in whose name a non-violent struggle for independence was waged. The KLA, by contrast, had to make Kosovars understand that there was no alternative to its armed liberation struggle. It understood that escalating violence by provoking the security forces would do the job. Comparatively minor attacks on police stations and other symbols of Serbian authority caused overreaction by security forces. Faced with brutal and often indiscriminate reprisals in reaction to the KLA‘s armed provocations, an ever larger number of ordinary Kosovo Albanians began to turn to the KLA. Before long, villagers in the most hard-hit areas were keen to tell inquiring journalists that ―all of us are UÇK‖ (Anastasijevic 1998). The impact of ruthlessly conducted Serbian counterinsurgency eventually reached the populations in Kosovo‘s few urban centers. Rugova‘s LDK was put on the defensive and eventually sidelined by the KLA. The very strategy that helped to win over the population worked in gaining international recognition. To many observers of the developments in Kosovo the KLA‘s struggle appeared as self-defense in the face of the general state of oppression and the appalling record of injustices committed against Kosovo‘s Albanians. This was not enough, however, to win over the West for the Albanian cause. The KLA realized that nationalist rhetoric and talk of self-determination was of no help. What it had to do was to harness the international human rights discourse for its political ends by playing on the fears of another Bosnia – and the ―international fears of a bloodbath in Kosovo could be strengthened only by objective facts reifying the fears‖ (Perritt 2008: 143). Facing up to a notorious villain in the person of Milosevic, it occupied the moral high ground and gained international legitimacy. Selling its nationalist struggle to a gullible Western public required escalating the conflict. The KLA, by deciding on a strategy of armed provocation, killed two birds with one stone. With only scant attention given to the precise circumstances of the escalation, the killings of Albanian civilians spoke for themselves. The KLA emerged as the army of a struggling but brave people defending itself against a massive onslaught of violence. The critical voices from some quarters of Kosovo‘s Albanian population cautioning against the KLA‘s strategy were muted when Belgrade‘s repressive policies became ever more violent and the West openly sided with the KLA. It is sadly ironic that only by bringing about this situation the KLA was able to claim that its approach, not Rugova‘s, was the right one and was being supported by the people.

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By this very strategy the KLA inadvertently promoted the development of a Kosovar political identity contrary to its Albanian nationalist ideology. However, the question as to whether Kosovo‘s Albanians can be said to have a distinct political identity is hotly disputed (Kelmendi and Desku 2005). In spite of its fragmentation, Albanian nationalists insist that there is only one Albanian nation – a nation that awaits its unification. A major reason for why this idea withstood the reality of political division and social separation for so long is found in the late nineteenth-century origin of Albanian nationalism, that is, its emergence before modern era borders were drawn. Although the KLA tapped into a strong sense of Albanian national identity among Kosovars, Albanian nationalism had developed differently among the Albanian communities in the Balkans. The post-war communist states of Yugoslavia and Albania sought to recast the multiple and cross-cutting religious and linguistic divisions among those they ruled into neatly separated and internally homogenous ethnonational identities. In Enver Hoxha‘s Albania, in continuation of policies introduced by Zogu in the interwar period, an Albanian nationalist self-understanding was forcefully promoted. In Yugoslavia, by contrast, people were Yugoslavs by virtue of being member of one of its constituent nations or nationalities. Self-identification as Yugoslav remained an exception. Starting in the late 1960s the normalized renderings of Albanian nationalism produced in Albania began to hold sway over Yugoslavia‘s Albanians, and particularly over those in Kosovo. The conceptual contradiction of being Albanian in Yugoslavia, literally the Land of Southern Slavs, was not lost to a young generation of Albanians with access to higher education. The classification of Yugoslavia‘s Albanians as a ―nationality‖ only and as such not entitled to the status of ―republic,‖ as was the case for Yugoslavia‘s constituent ―nations,‖ did not help either. Kosovo, conceived as an Albanian homeland, remained an autonomous region or province, constitutionally subordinated to the Republic of Serbia. For many Albanians it stood as a reminder of their inferior status in the Slav-dominated Federation. Because of Yugoslavia‘s design, grievances of all kinds became perceived through the prism of status – and status was reflected by the standing of the homeland. In Kosovo, Albanian nationalism produced two major strands. On the one hand, demands for improving the status of Yugoslav‘s Albanians by making Kosovo into an Albanian republic. On the other hand, the far more radical anti-Yugoslav demand for a Greater Albania, considered the ―natural‖ political expression of Albanian national unity. Both strands came with a more assertive nationalism whose center of activity was Kosovo. Here, Albanian nationalism took a regional flavor.

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In spite of the popularity of Albanian nationalist ideas, Yugoslavism had many supporters among Yugoslavia‘s Albanians. The Kosovo, in particular, was to benefit from a constitutional upgrading. Yet, the abolition of its autonomy status in March 1989 shattered whatever loyalty Kosovars had developed toward the Yugoslav Federation. Nonetheless, the newly emerging Albanian leadership under Rugova kept working within the Yugoslav-era structures. That it was in Kosovo that an Albanian state was to be built testifies to the ambivalent nature of Albanian nationalism as it evolved in Kosovo. From an orthodox nationalist perspective, Kosovo‘s Albanians were one with those in Montenegro, Macedonia, and across the border in central Serbia – not to talk about the Albanians from Albania proper. But irredentism was a minority position in the early 1990s. The dream of unification was relegated to the backseat as the political struggle in and over Kosovo took priority. Albanian nationalism remained a powerful idea, but it was more of an inspirational force for a Kosovar political identity which evolved underneath. The KLA, however, would not content itself with liberating Kosovo. Its members were dedicated to the idea of Greater Albania and vowed to break the straitjacket of the Yugoslav-era borders. In order to achieve their goal, the KLA had to infuse the Kosovars with a combative sense of self and a positive notion of what it meant to be an Albanian. The negative identification with the Serbs – or Slavs more generally – held the potential to unify Yugoslavia‘s Albanians across borders. In the end, all the KLA‘s armed struggle did was to reinforce a Kosovar political identity. The war provided the stuff for a narrative about self that is proper to Kosovo Albanians. It is an identity nowadays fostered by the institutions of the Kosovar state like the security forces, the administration, and the government – all conspicuously staffed by former KLA fighters. The KLA‘s struggle, as successful as it was in liberating Kosovo, worked against the dream of a Greater Albania. In sum, the KLA‘s armed struggle combined the military struggle against the Belgrade authorities with the political struggle for the hearts and minds of the Albanian population. The key to political success was using the effects of the atrocities committed by the security forces in order to transform Kosovo Albanians‘ political identity and to benefit from the legitimacy this conferred upon the KLA as an organization. The deeds of the Serbian security forces not only secured the support of the West where people grew concerned about the humanitarian disaster unfolding. It also shaped Kosovo‘s Albanians‘ sense of self in the KLA‘s image as a combative nation courageously defying the Serbs by armed force and ready to accept the highest sacrifice for the goal of liberation. Victory came closer once the KLA was recognized as legitimate representative of a people victimized by Milosevic.

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Before analyzing the KLA‘s struggle in greater detail, I will discuss the evolution of Albanian nationalism and the institutional framework that conditioned the development of the national movement. I start with a brief discussion of the early nationalist stirrings in the late nineteenth and the early twentieth century as the Ottoman rule over Albanian lands became increasingly precarious. Although I contend that Albanian nationalism as we understand it today was back then restricted to an educated minority, this period determined nationalist thinking in the second half of the twentieth century. The intellectual horizon for the nationalist quarrels in the Yugoslav-era was set by the demise of the Empire and the consequences of the introduction of the concept of the nation-state in the Balkans. Having exposed the pre-history of the current conflict I turn to Yugoslavia‘s Albanians and in particular the growing importance of Albanian nationalism in Kosovo since the early 1960s. In order to understand the subsequent developments it is necessary to realize how Albanian nationalism as an intellectual discipline and popular ideology was institutionalized in Albania first and only later made it across the border into Yugoslavia‘s Kosovo. I will spend some time describing the struggles taking place as Tito‘s project of a multi-national Yugoslavia came unraveled in the late 1980s. It is in these days that a Kosovar political identity began to evolve. It is here that I will finally turn to the KLA and its armed struggle. I will retrace the KLA‘s history and discuss its ideology and goals. The KLA‘s strategy and activity will be analyzed leading to detailed descriptions of four episodes of escalating violence that determined the KLA‘s ascent to power and constitute the core of this paper. These events were pivotal in the KLA‘s struggle for political legitimacy and transformed Kosovars‘ political identity. The subsequent section therefore analyzes the identity transformation that occurred as a consequence of the KLA‘s strategy of escalating violence and was prefigured by Rugova‘s policy. The last section finally addresses the fallout of this process in terms of how the KLA gained international legitimacy. It was this that secured NATO‘s intervention on its side and made the KLA Kosovo‘s master.

I) ALBANIAN NATIONALISM & THE KOSOVO ―Albania was the last of the Balkan nations to achieve independence, and the last to develop a modern national consciousness‖ (Fischer 2005). Bernd Fischer‘s quote, in essence, captures the fundamental handicap of the Albanian national movement. Its belated emergence and internal quarrels hampered its political realization. Albanian nationalism emerged in the mid-nineteenth century but encountered difficulties in transforming into a political movement. When it eventually did, the necessary unity of purpose was precarious

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given that mobilization proceeded from a variety of motives – many of them local rather than national in character. In fact, what appears as early Albanian nationalist stirrings was more a function of international political developments than an expression of a collective consciousness. It was not until the early twentieth century that ―Albanians, in significant numbers, began to participate in the growing national movement that sought the traditional goal of modern nationalists, the nation state‖ (Fischer 2005). The history of early Albanian nationalism, as will become evident throughout the following pages, is determined by the complex interaction of three interrelated political spheres: First, the international environment and the designs of the Great Powers in the Balkans in the face of the crisis of the Ottoman Empire. Second, the internal politics of the Empire and the different roles Albanians and particularly Muslim Albanians played therein and, finally, the inner-Albanian sphere in which nationalist intellectuals sought to harness the traditional forces for their political goals with varying degrees of success.

1) UNDER THE EMPIRE First signs of Albanian nationalist activity are recorded for the nineteenth century, becoming more virulent in its second half and leading to the declaration of an Albanian state in 1912. Starting with the creation of the Prizren League in 1878, this period of emerging Albanian nationalism coincides with the Ottoman Empire‘s loosening grip on the Balkans. It is usually presented as a succession of collective expressions of a single-minded desire for Albanian independence. Yet, retrospectively, Albanian nationalism all too easily appears as a historically continuous political force, at once ideologically coherent and socially cohesive. This, of course, is a nationalist reading of history. It is debatable whether the dominant motive force in these days was nationalism as we understand it today. In 1878, in the aftermath of the Russo-Turkish war, when the Great Powers gathered in Berlin to carve up the Ottoman Balkan possession, Bismarck is said to have exclaimed: ―There is no Albanian nationality‖ (quoted in Tomes 2004: 13). Indeed, internal contradictions were apparent. Although many Albanians had volunteered to fight on the side of the Ottomans others now begged the Great Powers to create an Albanian Catholic principality (Malcolm 1998: 219). Hence, there were no grounds to argue for them being a nation like the Serbs, for instance. Forty years later, a study by the British East Europe historian R.W. Seton-Watson entitled ―The Rise of Nationality in the Balkans‖ would make scant mention of an Albanian nation. The Albanians, Seton-Watson contended himself to state, are ―a race which has fewer historical records and less traces of culture than any

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other in Europe‖ (1918: 76). Stressing their loyalty to the Porte, he portrayed them as unruly tribesmen – simple-minded and opportunistic (1918: 138-9). Yet he acknowledged that in the nineteenth century ―the old obscurity‖ that had clung upon ―their mountain fastnesses‖ for ages had been lifted (1918: 76, 284). Indeed, as he wrote these lines a nationalist narrative was in the making. At the time of the Balkan Wars, a few years earlier, Leo Freundlich, an Austrian socialist who was to denounce atrocities committed by Serbian forces against Albanians, wrote: Am östlichen Ufer der Adria, kaum drei Tagereisen von Wien, lebt ein autochthones Volk, das seit Jahrhunderten gegen Feinde und Unterdrücker aller Art für seine Freiheit und Unabhängigkeit kämpft: die Albaner. Durch, alle Kämpfe und alle historischen Umwälzungen hindurch. hat dieses Volk seine Ursprünglichkeit bewahrt; weder die Völkerwanderung noch die Kämpfe mit Serben, Türken und anderen Eroberern und Unterdrückern vermochten zu verhindern, daß die Albaner in Rasse und Sprache, in Brauch und Sitte ihre Eigenart rein und unverfälscht sich erhalten haben (1913: 3).370 Although nationalist consciousness among those destined to conceive of themselves as Albanians might still have been weak, for Western observers like Freundlich the idea that there was an Albanian people, displaying qualities similar to other nations, was accepted by now. Among those populations nowadays considered Albanian a nationalism of the same name took many more years to strike roots.371 It has been claimed that it was only in post-war Albania, under communist rule, that a nationalist ideology was molded and popularized (Draper 1997: 1). Its roots and the stuff it was made of are to be found in the nineteenth century, however.

Loyal Subjects and Nationalist Intellectuals The people referred to as Albanians today were well integrated into the Ottoman Empire. Those of Islamic faith displayed a tenacious loyalty to the Sultan-Caliph often staffing prestigious positions in its bureaucracy, particularly within the army (Finkel 2007: 501; Glenny 2000: 152; Seton-Watson 1918: 138). As Muslims they

―On the eastern banks of the Adriatic, a mere three days journey from Vienna, live an autochthonous people who for centuries have been fighting for their freedom and independence against enemies and oppressors of all types. This people have clung steadfast to its roots through countless wars and the cataclysms of history. Neither the great migrations nor wars with the Serbs, the Turks and other invaders have hindered the Albanians from maintaining the race, their language, and the purity and originality of their customs‖ (my translation). 370

In fact, its main competitor, Serbian nationalism, was not consolidated either. Belgrade struggled to send a SerbOrthodox Metropolitan to Kosovo. This was achieved in 1896 only. On orders the Metropolitan then ―carried out a wide reorganisation in ecclesiastical and education institutions … and united activists on national affairs‖ (Vickers 1998: 57). ―Serbs,‖ as members of the Orthodox millet, were not recognized as a separate national group and subsumed under the Bulgarian structures (Vickers 1998: 57). However, within the great majority of the population living on the lands now constituting Kosovo, national consciousness of any kind was largely absent until 1912 (Malcolm 1998: 231). 371

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did not constitute a separate millet and non-religious educational institutions (if present at all) operated in Turkish.372 The Ottoman authorities suppressed any teaching in Albanian until the eve of it losing control of its Balkan possession in the early twentieth century (Tomes 2004: 13). Those of Orthodox or Catholic creed were assigned to the respective Christian millets (Misha 2002: 36-8). In the early nineteenth century, with Albanian nationalism non-existent, Christian Albanians rallied the Greek Orthodox Church and many actively took part in the Greek struggle for independence (Seton-Watson 1918: 48). Even a century later and despite Albanian nationalist ideas flourishing in intellectual circles, Albanian notables maintained their allegiance to the Sultan-Caliph and the Imperial order. It suited them since the Empire‘s aloofness guaranteed them a degree of autonomy that accorded with their clan-based ways of life. In the struggles accompanying the death throes of the Ottoman Empire one finds Albanians playing key roles, some joining the revolutionary Young Turks, others mobilizing in defense of the old order (Finkel 2007: 520; Malcolm 1998: 240). Next to religious divisions and sincere devotion to the Empire, it was also the lack of territorial unity that made the idea of an Albanian nation a contested concept. Under Ottoman rule the region inhabited by Albanians was divided into several vilayets whose boundaries were to change over the centuries. By 1878 ―Albania‖ was a vaguely circumscribed territory covered by the vilayets of Shkoder, Kosovo, Monastir and Ioannina (Finkel 2007: 502). Although modern Albania and Kosovo are located within the boundaries of the four vilayets, they also include parts of today‘s Serbia, Montenegro, Macedonia (FYROM), and Greece – all home to Albanian minorities today.373 In fact, early Albanian nationalism was a non-territorial concept. As promoted by intellectuals in the various émigré communities during in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, it was centered on a call to transcend religious divisions in the name of Albanianism, that is, a shared history, common traditions and the Albanian language.374 The perhaps most famous expression of the movement of Albanian Reawakening or Rilindja dates from around 1878 and comes to us from Pashko Vasa (Vaso Pasha), an Ottoman bureaucrat and intellectual from Shkoder, who composed O moj Shqypni, a poem 372

On the millet system, see Abu-Jaber (1967).

With regard to latter-day Albanian nationalism in Kosovo it is also important to note that the Ottoman-era vilayet of Kosovo was not coterminous with modern Kosovo. It had a far larger east-west extension reaching deep into today‘s Macedonia and included the district or sanjak of Novi Pazar, the land corridor between Montenegro and Serbia that connected the southern vilayets with Ottoman Bosnia. In fact, Skopje, the capital of modern Macedonian state, was its administrative center. 373

Those usually mentioned are the Arbëresh, an Albanian community in Italy which had just witnessed the Risorgimento, but the intellectuals of renown would gather in Istanbul. 374

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written in the Albanian dialect of his home region and whose English translation is ―Oh Albania, Poor Albania.‖ It offers an insight into the challenges Albanian nationalism was to encounter in the years to come: Oh Albania, poor Albania (…) Albanians, you are killing your brothers, Into a hundred factions you are divided, Some say „I believe in God,‟ other „I in Allah,‟ Some say „I am Turk‟ others „I am Latin,‟ Some „I am Greek,‟ others „I am Slav,‟ But you are brothers, all of you, my hapless people! The priests and the hodjas have deceived you To divide you and keep you poor. When the foreigner comes, you sit back at the hearth As he puts you to shame with your wife and your sister, And for how little money you are willing to serve him, Forgetting the oaths of your ancestors, Making yourselves serfs to the foreigners Who have neither your language nor your blood! (…) Awaken, Albania, wake from your slumber, Let us all, as brothers, swear a common oath And not look to church or mosque, The faith of the Albanian is Albanianism! From Bar down to far Preveza Everywhere let the sun spend its warmth and rays, This is our land, left to us by our forefathers (…) (quoted in Elsie 2005: 87-8). The call for unity in the name of a secular nationalist ideology is unequivocal. His words prefigure the main thrust of Albanian nationalist ideology as it became popular in the twentieth century – and the poem is rehearsed by all pupils in Albania up until today. Back then, however, the times were not ripe for such ideas to gain a mass following. Vasa had witnessed the revolutionary upheaval in Italy in 1848 and, though nominally a Roman Catholic, he was inspired by republicanism (Bajraktar 2011). In 1877, Vasa, together with other Albanian intellectuals – among them two of the Frasheri brothers who were to play a key role in the early development of Albanian

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nationalism375 – established the Central Committee for the Defense of the Rights of the Albanian People and, shortly after, the Society for the Publication of Albanian Writings.376 Based in Istanbul, the group endeavored to normalize the Albanian language, formalizing its grammar, and adopted a slightly modified Latin script (Elsie 2001: 147-51). But the Ottoman defeat against Russia in 1878 led to the politicization of their cultural activities. The war had created a window of opportunity. Traditionalist and conservative-minded elites back home in Albanian lands feared foreign occupation. The crisis would allow the intellectuals to approach them and get a hearing from them. The specter of the rise of Christian states in the Balkans made those for whom an Albanian nation remained an alien concept receptive to new ideas. They were now ready to contemplate the unification of the four Albanian vilayets and demands for territorial autonomy within the Empire. Yet, when Sami Frasheri, published in 1899 a nationalist manifesto which, for the first time, raised the idea of independence, it was received with skepticism (Elsie 2001: 152).377 The Empire still seemed to many Albanian leaders the best safeguard against foreign encroachment and, indeed, the Porte maintained its sovereignty over all but small patches of Albanianinhabited lands until the Balkan Wars in 1912/1913. At the turn of the century, the majority of Albanians ―seemed as content (or discontent) with Turkish rule … as they had been a hundred years earlier‖ (Tomes 2004: 13). But evidence of the slow decay of the Empire mounted. The fact that the Empire was forced under duress to concede the emancipation of its Christian populations and increasingly centralized governance fueled discontent in Albanian lands (see Finkel 2007: 501; Malcolm 1998: 249). Muslim Albanian leaders were outraged that Great Power lobbying for the Empire‘s Christians was upending the traditional social hierarchy.378 In addition, the Empire‘s internal reforms by which it sought to

The brothers Abdyl, Naim, and Sami Frasheri are prominent figures in Albanian national historiography. Each contributed in a different way to the development of Albanian nationalism. While the oldest brother, Abdyl, was a political activist, Naim became a poet and Sami an ideologue and editor (Elsie 2001: 151). 375

His activities would not prevent him from pursuing a career in the Ottoman administration that attributed him the title of Pasha and, after having occupied different posts, at the end of his life he became Governor of the Mount Lebanon, a post reserved for a Catholic of Ottoman nationality (Bajraktar 2011). 376

It was published in Bucharest in 1899 – for it faced Ottoman censorship. It was later translated into Turkish, Greek, French, Italian and German. 377

In these days ―all the outside powers had been given an opportunity to lobby diplomatically for the better treatment of Christians in Kosovo by a rather open-ended article inserted into the Treaty of Berlin. This article, number 23 in the treaty, would form the pretext on which Serbia and Montenegro invaded in 1912‖ (Malcolm 1998: 231). It imposed an administrative system similar to the so-called ―Organic Statute‖ introduced in Crete in 1868 which set up mixed ChristianMuslim administration. Pressures were exerted by Russia and Austria-Hungary in order to implement reforms to the benefit of the Christian populations. Ideas like a religiously mixed Gendarmerie and disarmament of the population were requested (Malcolm 1998: 234). The reaction was not long in coming. ―If the Muslim Albanians attacked the Serbs as 378

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modernize and prevent its demise were unpopular. They threatened to make them lose not only the autonomy they had enjoyed till now but also benefits they enjoyed as Muslim subjects, like exemption from taxation and voluntary enlistment.379 Yet, what made them open to nationalist ideas was the carving out of Albanian lands in the negotiations following the Porte‘s rout in the Russo-Turkish War.

The Struggle for Autonomy During the nineteenth century more and more non-Muslim populations of the Ottoman Empire adopted nationalism and transformed into nations. Nationhood justified demands for political independence from the Porte. Yet, for the time being, the national struggles coincided with the old religious divisions. The ChristianMuslim divide grew more politicized as the Great Powers carved out Christian states in the Balkans. Greece had shed Ottoman rule in 1832 already. In 1878, the Treaty of Berlin made Serbia and Romania independent states and established the Principality of Bulgaria which was left under Ottoman suzerainty but enjoyed de facto independence as well (it was united with the autonomous Ottoman province of Eastern Rumelia in 1885). The Porte also recognized Montenegro‘s independence, and Austria-Hungary was allowed to occupy Bosnia-Herzegovina and the Sandjak of Novi Pazar (Glenny 2000: 147). Negotiated between the Great Powers and the Porte under Bismarck‘s auspices, the Conference of Berlin had been prompted by the Ottoman defeat in the Russo-Turkish War and the determination to stave off Russian advances in the Balkans (Glenny 2000: 143-4). The Ottoman possessions in the Balkans shrunk considerably. Berlin thus marked the beginning of the end of centuries of Ottoman sovereignty in the region (Finkel 2007: 485).380 Just when Bismarck is said to have made his remark about the non-existence of an Albanian nationality, the first signs of a national movement could be made out. In June 1878, three days before the Congress of Berlin was to convene, several hundred Albanian notables, worried by the prospect of seeing Albanian-inhabited

Orthodox Christians, it was because they resented seeing government positions under the reforms, pass from Muslim to Christians, who till then had been under their rule‖ (Vickers 1998: 60). Quasi-autonomy meant the preservation of traditional jurisdiction which implied reliance on Sharia, the Islamic law, and the application of the regional honor-bound code known as Kanun (Malcom 1998: 224). 379

The Congress of Berlin was prompted by a treaty between the victorious Russian Empire and the Porte. In 1877, at San Stefano, on the outskirts of Istanbul, Russia had imposed its diktat and secured the creation of a Greater Bulgaria which would have included a large swath of Albanian lands in Macedonia and also most of Thrace. Montenegro would also have profited by expanding into Muslim-inhabited lands. The Western Powers were opposed to the deal and called for a revision of the Treaty of San Stefano which led to the Congress of Berlin. The Treaty of Berlin superseded San Stefano and repealed its territorial changes keeping most Albanian Muslims within the boundaries of the Ottoman Empire. Yet the overall message had not been lost to the Albanian leaders. 380

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territories fall under foreign occupation, gathered in Prizren. Times had changed. The Empire of which they were ardent supporters proved unable to provide for their defense against Orthodox Slavs. The Porte‘s territorial concession to Russia in the wake of its defeat triggered a popular mobilization which soon would turn against the Ottoman authorities (Vickers 1998: 49). Yet the developments also allowed intellectuals to promote their ideas of an Albanian nationalism. The League of Prizren in 1878 has gone down into the history of Albanian nationalism as the starting point of a broad-based movement that would eventually lead to Albania‘s independence. It was called by a group of intellectuals around the brothers Abdyl and Sami Frasheri, who had an autonomist agenda. 381 However, the character of the League was conservative if not reactionary. The gathering in Prizren was attended mainly by traditionally-minded delegates from Kosovo and western Macedonia, only a few of them Christians. Somewhat contrary to the ideology professed by the nationalists, the League became a Muslim-dominated ―military selfdefence organisation‖ intended to block Christian advances into Muslim-dominated lands (Malcolm 1998: 221). It declared loyalty to the Sultan-Caliph, and Abdul Hamid II welcomed it as a bulwark in defending the Empire‘s Balkan possessions (Vickers 1998: 47). The League‘s alliance with the Porte was shattered by the Empire‘s enforcement of the territorial concessions it had agreed to at the Congress of Berlin. The mass expulsions of Muslims from the territories ceded to Serbia were a disgrace in the eyes of many Albanian notables.382 The early program of the Frasheris gained popularity and in 1879 the League endorsed the demand for autonomy. Soon the League claimed control over the Albanian-inhabited vilayets (Malcolm 1989: 223-4). What made things worse, however, was the Porte‘s reaction to the troubles in the Albanian territories in the north-western corner of the former vilayet of Kosovo, which had been awarded to Montenegro. Having initially supported the resistance in the districts of Plav and Gusinje, the Porte eventually moved against the League, pressured by the Great Powers to honor its treaty obligations.383 An Ottoman expeditionary corps crushed the League‘s forces in early 1881. Abdyl Frasheri was arrested and forced to retire from politics (Malcolm 1998: 227). Abdyl Frasheri called for ―Albanians to be united among themselves, and … be free from direct Ottoman rule‖ (Malcolm 1998: 220). In a memorandum to the Ottoman government in 1877 he had already asked ―the uniting of the Albanian provinces in a single vilayet, the employment of Albanian officials there, the establishment of Albanian-language schools, and the limiting of military service to within the territory of the vilayet‖ (Malcolm 1998: 220). Yet such positions did not find many adherents among his traditionally-minded allies. 381

At the Congress of Berlin, the Ottoman Empire ceded to Serbia the area of Nis and parts of the Morava Valley around Pirot and Vranje. As a consequence the Albanian quarters in Nis were sacked and Malcolm speaks of about 50 000 refugees in 1878 (1998: 229). 382

Unable to quell the resistance, Montenegro called on the Great Powers to enforce the Treaty. A compromise solution was found. In exchange for the restive districts around Plav and Gusinje Montenegro was given the port of Ulqin/Ulcinj. 383

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The pressure on the Ottoman presence in the Balkans did not cease to increase. The recently independent Christian states sought to expand and coveted its lands. The situation became even more threatening to the Porte when Macedonian Slavs launched a nationalist movement within the remaining Ottoman territories.384 In 1899, the demand to create an autonomous Macedonia comprising the vilayets of Kosovo and Monastir prompted new initiatives on the Albanian side. The so-called League of Peja renewed the request for unification and autonomy of Albanian lands (Malcolm 1998: 232). Meanwhile, revolts against taxation and conscription had become endemic. However, there was no organized resistance in Kosovo that proved lasting until the Young Turk Revolution of the summer of 1908 upended the old order (Malcolm 1998: 236). The revolutionary movement was launched by a captain of the Ottoman Army – nominally an Albanian – who took to the mountains between Ohrid and Monastir/Bitola and issued a demand for the restoration of the constitution of 1876 which had been rescinded by Abdul Hamid two years later (Finkel 2007: 512, 520). When rumors of an Austrian invasion began to spread, Albanian tribesmen mobilized and gathered in Kosovo. The Young Turks saw their opportunity and with a ruse managed to enlist their support with promises of more conservative policies. They made the notables sign a telegram to the Sultan-Caliph demanding the restoration of the constitutional order. That the demand was backed by some of his most loyal subjects impressed Abdul Hamid and he conceded (Malcolm 1998: 237-8). The Young Turk revolution proved a two-edged sword. In its immediate aftermath the policies regarding minorities were liberalized. The issues of autonomy and education in Albanian language were raised anew, and in the fall of 1908 a congress was held in Monastir/Bitola at which the Albanian alphabet was standardized in Latin script (Pollo and Puto 1974: 162). 385 Yet, the attempted overthrow of the Young Turk government in 1909, launched by disaffected clergy and traditionalists in the Ottoman Army among whom are said to have been many Albanians, escalated tensions and Abdul Hamid was deposed (Finkel 2007: 515-8; Malcolm 1998: 240). This stirred the ire of the conservative Albanian notables who sensed that the Young Turks were essentially Turkish nationalists. Prominent Albanian figures like Isa Boletin, who had been head of the SultanCaliph‘s ―Albanian Guard,‖ turned against the Ottoman administration (Malcolm 1998: 240-1). Istanbul‘s centralist policies additionally fueled their anger. Attempts to enforce taxation, campaigns of disarmament, and But also there a resistance developed. And only when the Great Powers threatened to occupy Izmir the Porte resolved to send in troops to deliver Ulqin to Montenegro (Glenny 2000: 153). In August 1903 the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Organization (IMRO) which sought to liberate Macedonia from the Ottomans Macedonian Slavs orchestrated an uprising (Vickers 1998: 60). 384

The script to use for the Albanian language had been a matter of conflict (Vickers 1998: 57). Latin, Arabic and Greek were candidates and only in 1908 a common Albanian alphabet with Latin letters was compiled (Misha 2002: 38). 385

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forced conscription were met with growing resistance. ―The issue around which matters coalesced was a … ruling outlawing the use of the Latin alphabet for the Albanian language‖ (Finkel 2007: 520-1). A string of local rebellions erupted, and troops were sent in to pacify Albanian lands. In late 1911 Albanian deputies to the Ottoman parliament raised against the Young Turk policies which they denounced as cruel and chauvinist. First among them was Hasan Prishtina, a Western-educated intellectual and Albanian nationalist. He had come to perceive a fundamental incompatibility between Turkish rule and Albanian customs and traditions and felt that Albanians were getting conscious of their nationhood (Prishtina 1921). Prishtina teamed up with Ismail Qemal, a former Ottoman official and dedicated nationalist who had been close to the Frasheris. His earlier calls for Empire-wide autonomies and decentralization had made him a dissident (Pollo and Puto 1974: 160).386 Together with other Albanians in Istanbul they began hatching plans for a revolt. The conspirators agreed, as Hasan Prishtina was to remember later, that ―To put an end to Turkish policies affecting our national culture and to ensure some political gains for Albania, there was no other way out than a general uprising‖ (1921). The challenge, however, was to win over the conservative Albanian tribesmen for the nationalist cause. Like the Frasheris before him, Prishtina had to adjust to their concerns, above all their attachment to the deposed Abdul Hamid and to the Empire (Malcolm 1998: 245-6). Prishtina and his nationalist co-conspirators longed for ―freedom‖ and wanted to ―raise the flag of independence‖ (Prishtina 1921). Yet, to most Albanians in Albanian lands nationalism was still an abstract notion. Hasan Prishtina struggled to gather a force ready to face down the Ottoman troops, and the alliances he created with Albanian leaders in Kosovo were shaky. What was meant to be an anti-Ottoman revolt had to be sold on the ground as a movement aimed at reversing the Young Turk policies, allegedly ruining the Empire. As a joint communiqué of the rebels, published in the Ottoman press, is said to have stated: ―Let those who do not wish to see the Ottomans end up in a sorry state gather around our banner of rebellion. Our country calls on us to be united. The day and the time have come to save ourselves from the evil deeds of the Young Turks‖ (Prishtina 1921). What motivated the rebels in Kosovo was, above all, the wish to live by their own values and traditions under the protection of the Caliphate. The mobilization was, however, successful and the taking of the city of Prishtina forced the Ottoman authorities to enter into negotiations with the rebels. Their appeals to religious unity, denouncing the rebellion as ―anti-Islamic,‖ drove a wedge into the opposition (Prishtina 1921). Hasan Prishtina‘s party had to drop His so-called ―Red Book‖ received widespread attention. The pamphlet contained Albanian political demands. Although it stressed loyalty to the Sultan-Caliph, a series of autonomist demands were listed. Among them was a request for Albanian-speaking officials, local military service, local use of tax revenues, the creation of Albanian language schools, and respect for religious and traditional customs (Malcolm 1998: 244). 386

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demands for the recognition of borders if they were to keep the alliance together. The result was the so-called ―Fourteen Points.‖ It listed demands regarding inter alia local language use in the public sphere, respect for local traditions and customs, the need for infrastructure projects, and a system of education ―in the language of the country‖ – political autonomy was barely mentioned.387 This the Young Turk government accepted in August 1912 (Malcolm 1998: 247). However, according to Malcolm, the official version of the deal, as published in the press, contained an altered wording and avoided the use of the terms ―Albanian‖ or ―Albanians‖ except in the preamble (1998: 248).388 Although Hasan Prishtina‘s rebellion ultimately failed when the alliance broke apart, the endorsement of the Fourteen Points by the Ottomans is nowadays considered as a victory triumph for Albanian nationalism. 389 Writes Malcolm: ―This was the high, culminating point of all the various struggles for national recognition … since 1878. At long last a framework had been agreed on for an Albanian quasi-state within the Ottoman Empire, in which a national culture and national institutions for all the Albanians could have developed over time‖ (1998: 248).390 However, the success would not last. Encouraged by Russia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece, and Montenegro negotiated a deal to get hold of the remaining Ottoman lands in the region (Glenny 2000: 226-7). The Albanian revolt underscored the Empire‘s vulnerability and in October 1912 the newly created Balkan League launched a concerted attack.391 The Balkan Wars mark the end of Ottoman presence in the region. Now the question arose how to divide the spoils among the victors. Deals had been made in advance but the joint move of Serbia and Montenegro toward the Adriatic Sea provoked Austria-Hungary‘s diplomatic intervention (Glenny 2000: 240-2). In order to avert the imminent clash of Austria-Hungary and Russia – and thus of the Triple Alliance and the Entente – the British convened a conference in London where it was decided to recognize an Albanian state. In the face of Point ten demanded ―a regional organization to be set up‖ (Prishtina 1921). This was all that was left of the goal of independence. 387

The rationale behind that was not just hostility toward Albanian nationalism but the fear of the Balkan League who threatened intervention if Istanbul was to accept Albanian autonomy (Pollo and Puto 1974: 169). 388

According to Prishtina, two of his most powerful allies, the strongmen Isa Boletin and Riza Bey Djakova, ―had nothing else on mind at that time than getting Sultan Hamid out of prison. It was not that you could not talk to them about independence, but you could not even say anything about autonomy. … For this reason we separated, and not on friendly terms‖ (1921). 389

It is interesting to note that when the Ottoman government published the text of the agreement it contained a slightly changed wording that avoided the use of the terms ―Albanian‖ or ―Albanian‖ – except in the preamble (Malcolm 1998: 248). 390

They formally issued an ultimatum demanding far-reaching administrative reforms in the Empire revolving around the fate of its Christian populations (Finkel 2007: 523). 391

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Ottoman military defeat, Albania‘s independence had earlier been proclaimed by Ismail Qemal in the coastal town of Vlora on 28 November 1912. Albania became a kind of buffer state under international tutelage blocking Serbia‘s access to the sea.392 What is more, because the boundaries of the new state were contested, their determination was transferred to an international commission. The end result left large parts of the former Albanian-inhabited vilayets of Kosovo and Monastir outside of the borders of independent Albania (see Guy 2005). It was to become a sore point for Albanian nationalists who denounce the decision as a historic injustice.393

2) ALBANIA WITHOUT KOSOVO Following the second round of the Balkan Wars the occupied Ottoman territories outside the Albanian state were divided up by the Treaty of Bucharest of August 1913. Today‘s Kosovo and what now is Macedonia were awarded to Serbia. Albanian resistance did not abate, however. The brutality with which Serbian forces had taken possession of the lands did not help to endear the new rulers to the people (see Freundlich 1913). Small bands of Albanian bandits-cum-rebels, known as kaçaks, roamed Albanian-inhabited areas (Malcolm 1998: 257). A veritable guerrilla war lingered on in parts of western Kosovo. But even the changing fortunes of the First World War would not reverse the territorial separation of Albania from Kosovo agreed upon in London and Bucharest. In fact, Albania barely averted being dismembered at the Paris Peace Conference where its representatives were not even received.394 President Wilson intervened to block the agreement and in December 1920 the League of Nations recognized Albania‘s sovereignty (Zickel and Iwaskiw 1994: 25). Its borders, however, remained unsettled, and another commission was established to delimit them. It eventually confirmed the 1913 settlement with small adjustments (Guy 2005: 44). Nonetheless, Kosovo, initially occupied by the Central Powers and under French control at the end of the war, was returned to Serbia. In the spring of 1913 Albania was occupied by the armies of Montenegro, Serbia and Greece with Ottoman troops holding a few patches in central Albania and the city of Shkoder in the north. Neither did it have a functioning administration nor were its borders determined, yet. 392

The fact that the movement for Albanian independence started in Kosovo was not forgotten. In the eyes of Albanian nationalists, it only aggravated the historical injustice of having left Kosovo with Serbia. As Hasan Prishtina was to write: ―The Balkan War was the only reason why Vlora was to gain the laurels, and not Kosovo, and why a Lesser and not a Greater Albania resulted‖ (1921). 393

In order to lure Italy away from the Triple Alliance, the Entente powers had promised Italy inter alia territories in northern Italy, Istria, and along the Dalmatian coast on the eastern shores of the Adriatic. The secret treaty, signed in 1915, included a protectorate over Albania and control over the city of Vlora. After the war Serbia and Montenegro should receive much of northern Albania, and Greece much of the country‘s southern half. A small Albanian state centered on Durres would be represented by Italy in its external relations. Accordingly, in January 1920, at the Paris Peace Conference, it was agreed, in absence of the US representatives, to divide Albania among Yugoslavia, Italy, and Greece ―as a diplomatic expedient aimed at finding a compromise solution to the territorial conflict between Italy and Yugoslavia‖ (Zickel and Iwaskiw 1994: 25). 394

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No Albanian Irredenta On 1 December 1918 the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes was proclaimed. It comprised the territories of the Serbian Kingdom, the Kingdom of Montenegro, as well as the former Balkan possessions of AustriaHungary including today‘s Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, and Slovenia. Serbian Crown Prince Alexander Karadjordjevic was made King of the new state which, ten years later, would become Yugoslavia. Kosovo, by now, was an integral but still restive region of Serbia. In official parlance its inhabitants were ―Albanianspeaking Serbs‖ (Malcolm 1998: 268). The presence of an Albanian nationality within Yugoslavia was denied and in the 1920s and 1930s Belgrade encouraged Serb colonization of Kosovo.395 But armed resistance did not abate. The Drenica region in central Kosovo, which had been the staging ground for the 1912 revolt, again became a hotbed of opposition to Serb penetration.396 Kaçaks like Azem Bejta, who became one of their outstanding leaders, in company of his amazon wife Shota, continued to defy the Serbian authorities. Today, Albanian historiography presents them as embodiments of early nationalist devotion to the cause of liberating Kosovo (see below). During the war, however, kaçaks had fought with local Serbs against the Austrian occupiers who tried to establish a civil administration (Malcolm 1998: 262). And, after the war, many Albanians, rather than joining the armed resistance, chose to adjust to the circumstances and cooperated with the returning Serb rulers. Some even took low-level jobs in the local administration (Malcolm 1998: 272-3). They would be targeted by kaçaks whom the authorities accused of being ordinary criminals. Insofar an Albanian national consciousness existed in Kosovo it was not deeply rooted. Meanwhile, in Albania, the nationalists struggled on. In January 1920, an Albanian National Assembly was convened in Lushnje in reaction to the plans to establish an Italian protectorate and to protest the impending Designed for a variety of reasons the thrust of the program was certainly to pacify the region and secure its integration into Serbia. Key to this attempt of social engineering was the altering of Kosovo‘s demographic structure by opening the land to Slav settlers. They would transform the socioeconomic make-up of the area and bolster the claim that Kosovo was in fact Serbian land. The different rationales for the settlement policy Malcolm has compiled include reducing the outflow of people from Montenegro and Serbia to North America, punishing kaçaks by redistributing their lands to settlers, tightening the grip by establishing strategic villages along major transport arteries in the vicinity to Albania, and breaking up of the Ottoman feudal system of landholdings by engaging in agricultural reform (1998: 278-9). The idea of Kosovo as ―the cradle of the Serb nation‖ and religious center of Orthodoxy seems to have mattered little. In November 1913, Serbia agreed that Montenegro would receive the Pec, Decani, and Gjakova regions, that is, as far as its troops had advanced by April 1913 (Malcolm 1998: 257). From a contemporary perspective this is astounding given that Pec was an important religious centre of medieval Serbia. It became the patriarchate of Pec and the seat of the Serb Orthodox Church until it was abolished by the Ottomans in the second half of the eighteenth century. 395

The Drenica region comprises the triangle formed by the municipalities of Srbica/Skenderaj, Klina/Kline and Glogovac/Gllogoc. For reasons of expediency I also use Drenica when I refer to the Drenica region. In the 1990s it would become the center of anti-Serb resistance once again (see below). 396

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partition of the country. The Congress of Lushnje reasserted Albania‘s independence and territorial integrity. A bicameral parliament was created and a four-man regency appointed (Zickel and Iwaskiw 1994: 25). Tirana was made Albania‘s capital. The signal sent by Lushnje certainly contributed to Wilson‘s decision to oppose the partition of Albania agreed over in Paris. His diplomatic intervention was in line with the principles set out in his Fourteen Points. Albania looked like a clear-cut case of self-determination whose realization the European powers attempted to deny through secret diplomacy. The Albanian state of 1912 was preserved but the fate of Kosovo still animated its domestic politics. Hasan Prishtina, who was one of the organizers of the Congress of Lushnje, took public office in the young Albanian state. Yet his goal remained the redemption of the lands of the former vilayet of Kosovo. After the war, together with like-minded activists, he formed the Committee for the National Defence of Kosovo (Komiteti i Mbrojte Kombëtare të Kosoves) known as the ―Kosovo Committee‖. Having failed to get a hearing at the Paris Peace Conference to plead the cause of Kosovo, they sought control over the kaçak movement (Malcolm 1998: 274). Arms were smuggled across the border and the Committee tried to coordinate, as much as it could, the guerrilla activity. The resistance was fatally weakened when Hasan Prishtina fell out with Ahmed Zogolli, the later King Zog I, over the support for the Kosovar rebels. In December 1921, Prishtina became Prime Minister and attempted to dismiss Zogolli, then Minister of the Interior and Chief of the Army, who actively worked to mend fences with Belgrade. Zogolli, who, by now, had changed his name to Zogu, prevailed. Upon becoming Prime Minister in 1922 Zogu moved against the Kosovo Committee claiming that it was an obstacle to the normalization of relations with Belgrade (Pollo and Puto 1974: 220). A coup forced him to flee the country in 1924 but, with support of the Yugoslav government, he returned at the head of a military force later that year to assume full powers. His alliance with Belgrade demanded the suppression of irredentist tendencies and Hasan Prishtina, who had supported the coup against Zogu, went into exile. By now, the Serbs had decimated the kaçaks. 397 After 1925 Zogu, by now President of the Albanian Republic, continued to oppose Albanian irredentism. But, according to Glenny, his motive had changed: ―Zogu repudiated the Kosovars because he found it difficult enough to establish a stable state within Albania‘s borders. … [He] barely had sufficient resources to keep Albania together let alone attempt to expand his power at the expense of states with much more effective armies‖ (2000: 416). Although he was to take the title of King of the Albanians in 1928, his policy was decidedly non-irredentist (Fischer 2005; but Malcolm 1998: 287). His foremost concern was the consolidation In November 1920 a well-coordinated army action led to the defeat of a large kaçak force and Azem Bejta and Shota fled to Shkodra. Azem was killed in 1924 in another Serb crack down. Shota would pursue the struggle and eventually succumbed to battle-related wounds in 1927 (Malcolm 1998: 275, 277-8) 397

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of his rule and the creation of a stable and united Albania. The building of a centralized state thus required a unifying ideology. It has been argued that ―only in the communist era … a concerted and successful effort was made to popularize the idea of an Albanian nationality among the citizens of that state‖ (Draper 1997: 2). However, the first attempts to institutionalize a nationalist ideology were made under Zogu‘s rule. Zogu‘s attempts to consolidate the state faced daunting challenges as he confronted poverty, a lack of education and sociopolitical divisions. Albania was a place ―dreadfully poor and riven by the most fragmented social structure in Europe, the product of extreme underdevelopment and manifold internal rivalries‖ (Glenny 2000: 415). The mere fact that in 1922 ―only 9 per cent of the land was arable at a time when almost 90 per cent of the population lived either from agriculture or from animal husbandry‖ gives an impression of Albania‘s state of underdevelopment at that time (Misha 2002: 46). The tribes of the northern highlands lived by the rules of the honor-bound code of the Kanun and relied on primitive agriculture and brigandage to survive. They opposed any externally imposed order. And so did the great landowners of the central plains and the south who wanted to preserve the feudal structures of Ottoman times. In the south people looked toward Greece and the Orthodox Church as a possible escape (Glenny 2000: 415). The Albanian bourgeoisie, on its part, was weak. The sociopolitical fragmentation of the country was compounded by linguistic and religious divisions. While regional differences in terms of culture were significant – especially in terms of the two dialectal families Tosk and Gheg, with Gheg being spoken in the north and in Kosovo – religion still loomed large in people‘s identification (Tomes 2004: 13). Besides the Muslim majority there were large Catholic and Orthodox Christian communities. As Zogu acknowledged a lot of work had to be done to weld a nation out of this heterogeneous whole. As he said: You must understand that the average Albanian knows nothing about nationality. … He has got to be taught gradually to transfer this local allegiance, admirable in itself, to the central government. He must learn in fact that while remaining the member of a tribe, he is also a citizen of the State (quoted in Tomes 2004: 150). Indeed, in the 1920s, only ―few people identified themselves primarily as Albanian nationals‖ (Misha 2002: 46). Zogu, according to Fischer, undertook ―significant steps in the direction of the construction of national unity and a national consciousness that he saw as his principal task‖ (2005). Religion was nationalized. Zogu imposed state control over religious institutions in order to reform Albanian Islam, promoted the establishment of an autocephalous Albanian Orthodox Church to curtail Greek influence, and sought cordial relations with the

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Holy See (Misha 2002: 45). The festivals of all three faiths were made public holiday.398 In schools, sitting under red and black patriotic banners, children recited poems about Zogu and Skanderbeg, the medieval hero of Albanian nationalism. A nationalist ―catechism‖ was introduced in order to inculcate pupils the nationalist gospel: Q: But man himself, what does he love in life? A: He loves his country. Q: Where does he live with hope? Where does he want to die? A: In his country. Q: Where may he be happy and live with honour? A: In Albania. Q: Where does the mud seem sweeter than honey? A: In Albania. (quoted in Tomes 2004: 151). Pashko Vasa‘s pleas from a century before were beginning to be heeded and by the early 1930s Albania had gained a semblance of political and economic unity. The Second World War would bring an unexpected revival of Albanian irredentism. All began when following his return to power in late 1924 Zogu grew estranged from Belgrade and more and more dependent on Mussolini‘s Italy, turning Albania into a de facto protectorate (Glenny 2000: 417-23).

Greater Albania under the Occupation Benito Mussolini rekindled Italy‘s imperial dreams. He had thought for some time about grabbing Albania and sharing it with Greece and Yugoslavia but eventually went ahead on his own. In late March 1939 an ultimatum was presented to Zogu and, on 7 April, Albania was invaded by the Italian Army (Malcolm 1998: 288). Zogu fled, a puppet government was installed, and Albania‘s status as Italian protectorate was officialized (Malcolm 1998: 288). Victor Emmanuel III of Italy became King of the Albanians. In April 1941 the Kingdom of Yugoslavia fell prey to a German-led onslaught following a coup that toppled the Belgrade government who had reluctantly joined the Axis powers in late March. Yugoslavia surrendered unconditionally.399 The occupiers then redraw the borders of the region. The Italian and German foreign ministers resolved that in order to prevent Albanian irredentism to become a driving force for the anti-German resistance ―the largest part of Albanian-inhabited territory ―should be put under Italian control and joined to The equal status of all three meant that Albanians enjoyed twenty-one public holidays per year – a European record, if we believe Tomes (2004: 150). 398

The occupying powers split the territory of modern Kosovo in three. Bulgaria received some lands to the west of today‘s Kosovo-Macedonia border, Germany the north, including the mining area in the vicinity of Mitrovica. The lion‘s share, however, was given to Mussolini. 399

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Albania‖ (Malcolm 1998: 291). The territory now unified under Italian occupation included western Macedonia and large swaths of the Sandjak. Italian decrees of October 1941 and February 1942 made all the inhabitants of the Italian-occupied Albanian lands citizens of Albania (Malcolm 1998: 292). After the Italian capitulation in 1943 Germany proceeded in that same vein and formally recognized Albania as an independent state within the borders established under occupation (Malcolm 1998: 304). The Axis powers thus realized the goal Albanian nationalists had dreamt of since 1912 – the political unification of all Albanians. Anxious to consolidate the territorial unity the Albanian nation had gained under the occupation, nationalists created the so-called Second League of Prizren which campaigned for an ethnically defined Albania. ―Their main aim was to ensure that Kosovo and Albania would remain united, together with other areas added to Albania since 1941‖ (Malcolm 1998: 305).400 In 1942, the first nationalist party was founded in Albania, the National Front or Balli Kombëtar (BK). Led by Midhat Frasheri, son of Abdyl Frasheri and an outstanding intellectual figure of that time, the BK was as much a political as a military formation. It rallied diverse political elements, all united by the goal of an Albania within ethnic boundaries – and staunchly anti-communist. Because of its ideology the BK sat uneasily between the warring parties. Following an unsuccessful attempt to create a common front with the communist partisans and fruitless collaboration with the German occupier, the BK was suppressed by the nascent Communist Party of Albania (CPA) under Enver Hoxha‘s leadership. Yet the initial success of the BK stood for the appeal Albanian nationalism had in some quarters of Albanian society (Kola 2003: 29-30, 57-8). The German strategy of harnessing the forces of Albanian nationalism was only partly successful (Fischer 2006). Despite claims to the contrary, collaboration was limited. Kosovo, in particular, remained a restive and unruly place. Several groups operated there, some allied to Tito‘s partisans others to the Albanian communist resistance under Hoxha, and still others anti-communist and in contact with Britain‘s clandestine services (Malcolm 1998: 306-8). Tito‘s partisans, the main anti-German resistance group in Yugoslavia, had trouble to make headways there and, like the Germans before him, Tito sensed that he needed to court Albanian nationalist sentiments. All had to be done to prevent the emergence of a non-communist Albanian resistance (Kola 2003: 45-6; Malcolm 1998: 298).401 Anxious to strengthen its structures in Kosovo, the Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) was forced to address the question of Kosovo‘s future. Declaring that self-determination up to secession remained open to debate it pledged that the territorial question would be settled after the war (Kola 2003: 51). Yet the issue of Kosovo remained controversial. What followed were deportations of Serbs and Montenegrins which were halted by the Germans in April 1944. According to them 40 000 Serbs and Montenegrins had been driven out of Kosovo since 1941 (Malcolm 1998: 305). 400

401

This was important in order to gain an edge over the royalist Chetniks who, for obvious reasons, were weak in Kosovo.

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In November 1943, the Anti-Fascist Council of the National Liberation of Yugoslavia (Antifašističko veće narodnog oslobođenja Jugoslavije or AVNOJ in Serbo-Croatian) decided that the new Yugoslavia would be a federal state. This would ―ensure full equality for Serbs, Croats, Slovenes, Macedonians and Montenegrins, i.e. the nations of Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Macedonia, Montenegro and Bosnia-Herzegovina‖ (quoted in Kola 2003: 52). The six-unit Federation was to guarantee ―national minorities in Yugoslavia … all national rights‖ but no territorial autonomy (quoted Kola 2003: 52). Thus, Albanian self-determination which would have risked secession was ruled out. A different message emerged from a meeting of Kosovo‘s communist organizations, held roughly a month later. On New Year‘s Eve 1943 deputies of the different partisan groups gathered in the village of Bujan in the northeastern corner of Albania with the goal to establish a common organizational structure. They created the National Liberation Committee for Kosovo. 402 This would have been a long forgotten episode of the war in the Balkans, were it not for the resolution that was voted on that occasion. Taking notice of the majority status of Albanians in Kosovo, the resolution reiterated the wish of Kosovo‘s Albanians to be united with Albania proper. The other peoples of Yugoslavia were requested to support the Kosovar struggle in the name of national selfdetermination (Kola 2003: 53-4; Malcolm 1998: 308). Alarmed by the resurgent irredentism the CPY‘s Central Committee asked the Kosovo Regional Committee to bring the new organization back into the fold. It was asked to actively promote the federalist solution decided by the AVNOJ (Kola 2003: 55). The separation of Kosovo from Albania was eventually maintained and the pre-war borders reestablished. 403 The CPA leadership, who might have lobbied the CPY on behalf of the Kosovars, appears to have been ―more concerned with cementing its monopoly over the resistance movement in Albania than with Albanians outside the country‘s borders‖ (Kola 2003: 57). In fact, its disregard for the Kosovo issue did not provoke controversy. Hoxha‘s powerbase lay in the south of the country and Tosks hardly identified with the Ghegs in the north (Draper 1997: 6). What is more, the CPA was a creation of the CPY and remained closely monitored if not supervised by CPY cadres (Glenny 2000: 560). Therefore, following the CPY‘s line was imperative, all the more as Hoxha is said to have looked up to Tito in admiration (Kola 2003: 27; Malcolm 1998: 319). Out of 49 representatives in Bujan 42 are said to have been Albanians while of the 142 at the Regional People‘s Council that represented some 2 200 members of the Communist Party, only 33 were Albanians (Malcolm 1998: 307; 315). The ―ethnodemocratic‖ rationale of those criticizing the procedure is obvious – and, one has to admit, totally justified as long as the individuals present at Bujan are seen as representative of the (Albanian) majority in Kosovo. On Bujan and the debate on ethnonational representation, see Pearson (2006) 402

The ―liberation‖ of Kosovo in 1944 was rather unspectacular: ―the towns in Western Kosovo were ‗liberated‘, i.e. taken over by Partisan forces, only after the Germans and their auxiliaries had left; in Eastern Kosovo it was the Soviet and Bulgarian forces (with some Yugoslav Partisans attached to them) who took over…‖ (Malcolm 1998: 311). In sum, the impact in terns of physical destruction was limited, at least when compared to the rest of Yugoslavia (Malcolm 1998: 312). 403

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The end of the war saw the imposition of military rule in Kosovo. The political bodies controlled by the CPY did everything to demonstrate that Kosovo was a ―constituent part‖ of Serbia.404 In September 1945, the presidency of the People‘s Assembly of Serbia passed a law creating the ―Autonomous Region of KosovoMethoija‖ (KOSMET) (Malcolm 1998: 316).405 How much these developments caused resentment with Yugoslavia‘s Albanian population is difficult to know. After the war, armed resistance against communist takeover persisted for some time but it was eventually muted, allegedly with the help of Albanian partisans (Kola 2003: 62; Malcolm 1998: 312). Afterwards, Yugoslavia‘s Albanians became increasingly isolated from what was happening in Albania proper. The fallout between Belgrade and Tirana following Tito‘s break with Stalin in 1948 brought interactions across the border to a standstill.

Institutionalizing Albanian Nationalism After the Second World War Albanian nationalism was institutionalized in Enver Hoxha‘s Albania. Although somewhat paradoxical, the ―underpinnings of Albanian national ideology were molded by the communists‖ (Draper 1997: 1). Communism alone was not sufficient to legitimize the program of forced modernization the country now underwent, so Hoxha set out to harness nationalist ideology for his goals. The absence of a strong state and the legacy of the war ―meant that the communists were obliged to draw on indigenous traditions much more powerful than the alien ideology of Marxism-Leninism to attract sympathizers‖ (Glenny 2000: 560). Indeed, Fischer (2005) points out the extremely narrow base of support the Albanian communists had had during the war. As in many other places around the world, nationalism was ―to give the citizens of the state a sense of dedication to an encompassing whole – the nation – dedication that the communists then tried to convert into belief in the Party‖ (Draper 1997: 10). The industrialization of a country in which, around 1944, only 15 000 in a population of just over a million could be described as working-class required the centralization of power and the development of a public administration (Misha 2002: 47; Glenny 2000: 563).406 In order to increase the reach of the state local

Somewhat reminiscent of the abolition of Kosovo‘s autonomy in March 1989 by the Kosovo parliament, the decision to make Kosovo a province of Serbia was endorsed by acclamation in summer 1945 by the Regional People‘s Council of the Communist Party in Kosovo (Malcolm 1998: 315). 404

At the same time the Autonomous Province of Vojvodina was created. The distinction made between region and province – in Serbo-Croatian oblast and pokrajina respectively – was never legally defined according to Malcolm (1998: 316). But the constitutions of Yugoslavia of 1946 and of Serbia of 1947 delegated different powers to both regions (Kola 2003: 65). 405

Writes Sjoberg: ―The communist reforms focused on roads, land, the media, and education. Prior to the war people had remained relatively isolated in their mountain clans or as sharecroppers on farms in the lowlands. The agrarian reforms of 1946 broke up the large estates and distributed land among the people, resulting in a tremendous increase in 406

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autonomies had to be abolished. The state had to penetrate the countryside. Nationalism was functional in absorbing the shock of these transformations. The developing institutional infrastructure helped to inculcate people into the idea of a collective self – an all-encompassing whole to which they belonged. The expansion of the educational system, in particular, helped to spread a vision of the Albanian nation as a historic entity and moral community.407 Nationalism evoked the sense of a shared purpose and secured people‘s adherence to the communist program of radically transforming society. Together with the extensive use of physical coercion, it was ―the best means … by which Hoxha could remain in power and progress toward a modern socialist state‖ (Fischer 2005). He thus followed Zogu‘s footsteps. The icons of Albanian socialism, with the exception of Stalin and Hoxha himself, were almost exclusively Albanian nationalist figures (Glenny 2000: 560). Ismael Qemal and the Frasheri brother were venerated and Hoxha is said to have liked to quote Pashko Vasa‘s slogan ―The religion of the Albanian is Albanianism.‖ Above them, however, towered George Kastrioti or Skanderbeg. This fifteenth century hero of anti-Ottoman struggle was elevated to the symbol of Albanian nationalism.408 Misha suggests that ―In the absence of a medieval kingdom or empire the Albanian nationalists chose as their symbol the figure of Skanderbeg… a rather well-documented historical figure, whose memory was still alive in oral tradition‖ (2002: 43). The image of Skanderbeg was cast in function of present needs. Zogu had already invoked the Skanderbeg myth, presenting himself as his heir. Now, the communists did the same, only with bigger means at their disposal. The story of the Albanian nation, as officially told, should ―lead naturally to a contemporary and contextualized view of the Communist Party as heir to Skanderbeg‘s struggle‖ (Draper 1997: 7). The partisan resistance against the Axis powers was presented as similar to Skanderbeg‘s resistance to the Ottomans. History made key elements of the CPA‘s political program like self-reliance and isolation appear as long-standing and characteristic traits of the Albanian people (Draper 1997: 7). The paradox of promoting a Christian hero who had fought Muslims among people whose ancestors had been loyal subjects of the Porte highlights a major problem of Albanian nationalism. Religion was a divisive force. the interactions of citizens with the state and with each other (1991: 84, quoted in Draper 1997: 8). For a brief summary of modernization under Hoxha, see Glenny (2000: 536-4) Mass literacy campaigns, and a corresponding explosion in sources of news and literature increased the sense of an Albanian community. After the war seven year schooling was introduced and became mandatory in 1952 (Sjoberg 1991: 65, in Draper 1997: 8). 407

Skanderbeg (Skënderbeu in Albanian) was the son of a Christian Illyrian nobleman from what today is Albania. As a child he was taken hostage by the Porte to guarantee the loyalty of his family. There he was raised as a Muslim, given the name ―Skanderbeg,‖ and went on to fight for the Sultan. In 1443 Skanderbeg returned to his Adriatic homeland, renounced Islam, joined the various lords of the area together in the League of Llesh and, receiving rather intermittent aid from the Vatican and Venice, held off the Ottoman armies until his death in 1468 (Pollo and Puto 1974: 76-98). 408

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Serbian, Bulgarian, and Greek nationalisms had thrived on their respective national Orthodox churches. They had provided the movements with an organizational infrastructure. In Albania religious fragmentation made faith a threat to unity. Zogu had already attempted to address that issue but it was Enver Hoxha who devised a radical solution (Misha 2002: 45-6). In 1967 he made Albania the first – and till now the last – state to enshrine atheism in its constitution. By outlawing religion Hoxha sought to remove a dangerous competitor to communist ideology in order to build Albanian nationalism on secular foundations. By effacing religion which had been the major differentiating social category in the Ottoman Empire, the way was open to project a national history extolling the unity of Albanians over and against all things that had divided them in the past. Language was elevated to the single marker of Albanian nationality. The rift created by the presence of two dialectal families, Tosk and Gheg, which coincided with a north-south division, had to be overcome. Under the slogan ―one nation, one literary language,‖ the communists imposed Tosk as the standard. The 1972 Congress of Orthography held in Tirana proclaimed the so-called ―unified literary Albanian‖ (Pipa 1989: 5). Although Gheg remained a widely-used vernacular, the normalization of the Albanian language helped to integrate people of different faiths and with strong local attachments (Draper 1997: 2). The emphasis on language as defining Albanians in contradistinction to their Slav neighbors worked as a unifying force – even beyond Albania‘s borders. Hoxha‘s Socialist People‘s Republic of Albania drew much of its legitimacy and strength from nationalism. At the foundations of this ―inflexible totalitarian edifice‖ (Glenny 2000: 560) were constant appeals to the Albanian nation. ―Hoxha,‖ writes Pipa, ―was decisive in producing a cultural atmosphere totally dominated by a doctrinaire propaganda exalting nationalism‖ (1990: 121). Academic disciplines like history, linguistics, and ethnology had to prove the continuous presence of ―a single homogenous collective Albanian personality who marched through history defiant of its enemies. ―(Draper 1997: 7). Yet, this program of nationalist homogenization, as much as it was aimed at welding a nation, had a defensive thrust. Albania, as history had shown, was a vulnerable entity and still in 1948 Stalin suggested that Albania might become a Yugoslav republic (Glenny 2000: 561).409 Hence, nationalism not only meant awareness of a shared past but also aimed at promoting xenophobia, slavophobia, and isolationism (Pipa 1990: 121). Nationalism, in short, was functional in consolidating the Albanian state within and without.

Kola argues that Tito‘s intention to incorporate the whole of Albania into Yugoslavia was initially approved by the CPA leadership (2003: 368). Until 1948, the year Yugoslavia was kicked out of the socialist camp, the merger of Albania, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Greece into a ―Balkan Federation‖ was contemplated as a solution to the problem of competing nationalisms and especially the question of Macedonia (2003: 367). 409

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The aggressive promotion of Albanian nationalism was not without problems. Evoking the unity of the Albanian nation as a whole by stressing the ―historical continuity of Albanians in their territories‖ raised the specter of irredentism (Misha 2002: 47). Kosovo, above all, remained a sensitive issue. Right after the war Hoxha had ―urged his party to adopt a non-nationalist policy, stating that it was not in Albania‘s interest to claim Kosova, but that, on the contrary, the CPA should try to encourage fraternal relations between the Kosova Albanians and the Yugoslavs‖ (Kola 2003: 65). The war had tarnished the idea of Greater Albania. It was now associated with fascism. After Tito‘s break with Stalin in 1948, the situation changed. Hoxha stood by Moscow and began vilifying Tito for, among other things, the shortcoming of Yugoslav governance in Kosovo. Denouncing the alleged discrimination of Yugoslavia‘s Albanians he ended up accusing Yugoslavia of genocide (Kola 2003: 110-1). Because of the war, Kosovo‘s Albanians were already suspicious. Now, the Yugoslav authorities began to perceive Kosovo as ―a potential nest of fifth-columnists and traitors‖ (Malcolm 1998: 320).410 Only after Albania lost its status as Soviet ally in 1960 the situation reverted once again – the violent crackdown on Czechoslovakia‘s Prague Spring in 1968 would raise fears of a Russian intervention in both countries leading to a rapprochement (Malcolm 1998: 325). Kosovo‘s Albanians were to benefit from the thaw. With hindsight, Albania‘s foreign policy under Hoxha was marked by a lack of interest in, if not the outright rejection of, pan-Albanian nationalism. Hoxha ―repeatedly declared that Albania did not seek a rectification of borders and that the Albanians of Yugoslavia could take their own decisions on their future‖ (Kola 2003: 111).411 Despite occasional outbursts, his anti-Yugoslavism was more of a function of the climate in the bilateral relations of both countries (Kola 2003: 387-8). In fact, Kosovo was a pawn in a larger game, it was ―Albania‘s stake in Yugoslavia – a kind of buffer zone‖ (Vickers 1998: 206). Sometimes perceived as a bridge builder and at other times a divisive issue, Kosovo‘s belonging to Yugoslavia was not questioned. An explanation for Hoxha‘s ambivalent nationalism is not easy to come by. International constraints and political pragmatism as well as genuine ideological convictions and domestic consideration might all have played a role. 412 A number of trials, particularly one in Prizren in 1956 were denounced as politically biased and criticized by the Kosovo Assembly (Malcolm 1998: 321-2). 410

Kola states that ―In the few instances where Kosova was mentioned in the media in Albania, it appears to have been largely for domestic consumption, and the rhetoric was rarely, if ever, followed up in the form of policy‖ (2003: 388). He also argues that the CPA‘s anti-nationalism with regard to Yugoslavia‘s Albanians can be explained by Stalin‘s and later Khrushchev‘s influence who did not want the issue on the table (Kola 2003: 111). 411

Contributing to this was his sense of reservation vis-à-vis the unruly Kosovar chieftains and the restive Ghegs of the north more generally. The backward north-eastern border areas would rather remain ―a place of exile and punishment‖ (Pettifer and Vickers 2009: 143). 412

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Tirana‘s uneasiness with Albanian irredentism is aptly documented. Even in situations where it could have provided – at almost no costs – tacit support for Albanian nationalists in Kosovo, it refrained from doing so. In April 1964, one of the first organized groups in Kosovo advocating the reunification of Albanian lands, the Revolutionary Movement for Albanian Unification (Lëvizjen Revolucionare për Bashkimin e Shqiptarëve or LRBSh in Albanian), staged a symbolic protest. In an overnight action it flagged the streets of several cities with the Albanian‘s double-headed eagle. Hoping for Tirana‘s support, the activists sent photographs to the Albanian consulate in Ankara. The reaction left no room for doubt: ―The Consulate requested the [LRBSh] to disperse immediately‖ (Gashi 2010: 44). Nationalist activists from Kosovo who sought shelter in Albania were dealt with in the same way. They were swiftly handed back to the Yugoslav authorities while others were jailed under suspicion of spying – a practice that continued well into the 1980s (Vickers 1998: 206, 224).413 The message was clear: Yugoslavia‘s Albanians had to look after themselves although the nationalists among them continued to put their hope in Hoxha‘s Albania.

3) KOSOVO’S ALBANIANS AFTER WORLD WAR II Kosovo‘s political development after the war was determined by Yugoslavia‘s complex constitutional design. Its territorial-administrative structure was based on ethnonational categories. The heavily politicized fine-tuning of that structure fanned the flames of nationalism. It provoked conflicts which ultimately lead to Yugoslavia‘s dismemberment. In order to understand Kosovo‘s travails one has to understand its peculiar role as a ―nested homeland‖ (Petrovic and Stefanovic 2010) – something Judah has aptly coined ―constitutional sophistry‖ (2002: 37). The two major concerns that were to define Yugoslavia‘s constitutional evolution were the application of the principle of national self-determination and the need to curtail Serb dominance. Both were realized by the creation of an ethnofederalist structure leading to six republics and two autonomous territories, Kosovo and Vojvodina, placed within Serbia. The normative justification for this move was provided by a conceptual distinction between nations, on the one hand, and nationalities, on the other (respectively narod and narodnost, in Serbo-Croatian). In the name of the principle of self-determination nations were granted the right to a republic of which they were the titular group. Nationalities were only entitled to autonomy within a republic since the nation they were part of had already realized self-determination elsewhere (Petrovic and Stefanovic 2010: 1085). In Yugoslavia this meant that Slovenes could call Slovenia their own, Croats could do so with Croatia, and Serbs with Serbia, while Albanians had to be content with an autonomous Kosovo whose

413

More than 200 after the riots of 1981 alone (Clark 2000: 44)

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existence and constitutional rights derived from Serbia‘s constitution.414 Legally, the main difference between the autonomous entities and the republics was that the former ―did not have the right to secede from the federation‖ and ―were not considered the bearers of Yugoslav sovereignty, as were the republics‖ (Kosovo Commission 2000: 36). This approach allowed for some creative solutions to problems besetting Yugoslavia‘s internal organization. Macedonians, Montenegrins, and Muslims in Bosnia received the status of titular nations and thus got their own republics. The fact that the nation-ness of these three was doubtful was not lost to Albanian politicians and intellectuals who complained that Yugoslavia did not live up to its own principles. 415 Moreover, the exception made with regard to Vojvodina, which was granted autonomy because of its distinct history and culture, did not help either. For many Albanians the rhetoric of equality captured in the handy slogan of ―Brotherhood and Unity‖ (bratstvo i jedinstvo in Serbo-Croatian) could not conceal that Yugoslavia was first and foremost a Slav federation. After all, Yugoslavia meant ―the Land of Southern Slavs.‖ They rightly felt that Albanians were only second among equals. Yugoslavia‘s constitutional ingenuity did not solve the lingering conflict over Kosovo. It rather produced ―fundamental institutional and ideological contradictions‖ by recognizing ―a territory as one group‘s ethnic homeland, while simultaneously placing that territory inside a larger region recognised as another group‘s ethnic homeland‖ (Petrovic and Stefanovic 2010: 1077). The interlocking of institutions was meant to limit the centrifugal forces in a federation built on the principle of national self-determination, but it was a time bomb. When Kosovo‘s Albanians began to emancipate themselves in the late 1960 and achieved an upgrade of the constitutional status of autonomous Kosovo, it was to the Serbs to voice complaints. Theirs was the only republic that was administratively divided in three parts leaving many Serbs beyond the direct jurisdiction of ―their‖ republic, even within the Socialist Republic of Serbia. And that Tito had granted Kosovo autonomy was particularly galling from a Serb nationalist perspective for Kosovo occupies a special place in the nation‘s The Yugoslav constitution of January 1946 confirmed the federal structure of Yugoslavia, decided in 1943. It was completed by the declaration of a Serbian constitution a year later. KOSMET was granted the right ―to direct its own economic and cultural development, prepare a plan for its won budget, protect the rights of its citizens, and so on‖ (Malcolm 1998: 316). In 1963 Serbia‘s constitution was revised. Kosovo became an ―Autonomous Province‖ whose existence and constitutional rights derived from Serbia‘s constitution. 414

Montenegrins were considered ethnically Serb, the political history of Montenegro notwithstanding. In 1968 a senior Communist is said to have asked: ―Why do 370,000 Montenegrins have their own republic, while 1.2 million Albanians do not even have total autonomy‖ (quoted in Clark 2000: 38)? Macedonians were perceived as ―a Serbian answer to Bulgarian claims‖ (Vickers 1998: 175). In fact, Slav Macedonians were often considered Bulgarians whereas Serb nationalists tended to see them as ―Southern Serbs‖. Macedonia, as a political entity, had never existed before. BosniaHerzegovina was home to large Croat and Serbs minorities. That its Muslim-majority population, first recognized as such in the 1971 census, eventually became ―Bosniaks‖ is a result of Yugoslavia‘s constitutional architecture. 415

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historiography. What is more, according to the 1981 census, of the 8.1 million Yugoslav Serbs only 60 percent lived in central Serbia – insofar they perceived themselves as a nation, Serbs had a vested interest in Yugoslavia‘s perennity.416 Students of Kosovo‘s recent political history distinguish between different phases in the period spanning 1945 to 1989 (see Petrovic and Stefanovic 2010). In order not to overcomplicate things, the years 1966 and 1981 can be considered turning points in Kosovo‘s political development and for that matter in the evolution of Albanian nationalism there. They had important consequences for the fate of its Albanian population and the development of Albanian nationalism in Yugoslavia. The 1950s and early 1960s are said to have been the most difficult period for Albanians under Titoist rule (Malcolm 1998: 323). After the war, Kosovo remained the most backward place in Yugoslavia.417 Although Tito had put a halt to the most oppressive policies directed against Yugoslavia‘s Albanians, they continued to be regarded by the Slav majority as an alien population.

418

The Minister of the Interior, the Serb Alexander

Rankovic, ruled with an iron fist cracking down on the slightest sign of nationalist opposition across Yugoslavia. Discriminated against and lacking adequate education, Albanians in Kosovo were underrepresented in Yugoslav institutions and its economy. According to Malcolm, Serbs and Montenegrins, who made up for 27 percent of the population of Kosovo according to the 1953 census, accounted for 50 percent of the Party membership, held 68 percent of ‗administrative and leading‘ positions, and comprised 50

Whereas the provinces of Kosovo and Vojvodina were home to 1.3 million Serbs, about 2 million lived in the other republics (see Sundhaussen 2007: 494 [Tabelle 3]). 416

In 1948 about 74 percent of Albanians over 10 were illiterate (Malcolm 1998: 318). Before the war there had been 252 Serbian schools in Kosovo. At the end of 1945 there were 392 such schools with 279 classes in Albanian. While the opportunities for education improved, Kosovo‘s economic development lagged behind. In 1953, although it comprised almost 5 percent of Yugoslavia‘s population, its contribution to the overall social product was a mere 2.2 percent – and it would not get better over the years, not least because of rapid demographic growth (Suster 1999: 377 [Table 1.], see also Sundhaussen 2007: 495 [Tabelle 4]). 417

Tito put an end to the Serbianization of names (usually done by adding ―-ić‖ endings). Also, he banned by ―provisional decree‖ the return of Slav colonists in March 1945, organized an agrarian reform and the restitution of land confiscated from Albanians (Malcolm 1998: 317-8). The free use of the Albanian language in official matters and education was eventually allowed. Tito, it seems, thought that his tutelage would be beneficial to the region and its Albanian population. Meanwhile, however, the Yugoslav authorities pushed people to identify as Turks in order to transfer them to Turkey. A treaty had been signed with Ankara in 1953 to the effect of permitting a large-scale emigration (Malcolm 1998: 322-3). Between 1945 and 1966 about 246 000 left Yugoslavia for Turkey, among them ethnic Turks and Muslim Slavs but also many Albanians (Malcolm 1998: 323). 418

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percent of the workers (1998: 323). Yet, over the years, none of the numerous federal investment programs managed to overcome Kosovo‘s endemic underdevelopment.419 In the late 1960s Yugoslavia embarked on another round of constitutional reforms. The signal came in 1966 at a Party plenum on the Adriatic island of Brioni. Rankovic was dismissed as chief of the powerful Yugoslav secret police (Uprava državne bezbednosti or UDBa in Serbo-Croatian) – allegedly for abuses of power.420 What prompted his ouster, however, was an inner-Party struggle over the direction the Yugoslav Federation should take. Rankovic had been opposed to decentralization, but Tito‘s new approach was one of ―national self-direction‖ and against homogenous ―Yugoslavism‖ (Malcolm 1998: 324; for details, see Petrovic and Stefanovic 2010: 1089-90). A series of constitutional amendments were voted beginning in 1968. These constitutional changes, enacted until 1972, were intended to ―help resolve issues in multinational relations within the Federation and to strengthen confidence in Yugoslavia as a community of nations and nationalities enjoying equal rights‖ (Vickers 1968: 174). Republics were treated as national entities and so were the autonomous provinces. In fact, in the name of the struggle against ―centralism‖ and ―unitarism‖, calls for national emancipation became louder – a development many Serbs resented. For them, Rankovic‘s fall amounted to a Serb defeat. Kosovo was to benefit greatly from the constitutional reforms initiated in the aftermath of Rankovic‘s removal in 1966. Established in fall 1945 as Autonomous Region of Kosovo-Methoija (KOSMET), it became a Socialist Autonomous Province with its own constitution in 1968.421 By virtue of the amendments Kosovo and Vojvodina gained legislative and judicial authority, their basic legal order being established by separate constitutions (Vickers 1998: 169). In Kosovo Albanian language rights were extended and an Albanian university created out of what had been the Prishtina-branch of the University of Belgrade. Albanian history and cultural It was only after 1957 that Kosovo began to receive investment funds for industrialization under the federal budget. According to Malcolm, by 1958 there were 49 industrial enterprises in the whole of Kosovo, employing 16 000 people out of a population of about 900 000 – by comparison, Slovenia, with a population of about 1.5 million, had 465 (1998: 323). Observers, with hindsight, criticize the development strategy Yugoslavia pursued in Kosovo. Like Vickers (1998), Malcolm deplores that ―most investment in Kosovo was concentrated in ‗primary‘ industrial projects such as mines, basic chemical works and power stations, which supplied raw material or energy for use elsewhere in Yugoslavia. This primary industry was capital-intensive but not labour-intensive, which was also unfortunate, given that Kosovo was the area of Yugoslavia with the fastest-growing population‖ (1998: 323). 419

It is noteworthy that following his dismissal, the LCY publicly criticized UDBa‘s repressive activities in Kosovo against Albanians (Reuter 1987: 134). 420

Note that KOSMET had initially been granted the right ―to direct its own economic and cultural development, prepare a plan for its own budget‖ and ―protect the rights of its citizens‖ (Malcolm 1998: 316). It was only in 1963 that Kosovo became an ―Autonomous Province‖ whose existence and constitutional rights derived from Serbia‘s constitution exclusively. 421

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expression were promoted. The Albanization of Kosovo in the wake of its uplift within Yugoslavia‘s constitutional framework, in itself a path-breaking development, had a broader meaning: It stood for the emancipation of Yugoslavia‘s Albanians more generally (Clark 2000: 39-41). But limits were clearly set. A revision of the borders of the province in the name of Albanian national rights, even within Yugoslavia, was out of question. Insofar the constitutional amendments were meant to consolidate the Federation, they had contrary effects. The decentralization appeared to strengthen centrifugal forces. Shortly after Rankovic‘s dismissal Croatian intellectuals launched an oppositional movement – known as the Croatian Spring. In Kosovo students rioted in 1968, and in 1971 nationalist rallies had to be suppressed by the security forces (Glenny 2000: 585-93; Vickers 1998: 177). Yet, Tito did not veer from the path of constitutional reform. True to its materialist philosophy the Party sought to counter the threat of separatism by economic expansion. The equal distribution of the benefits of economic development and modernization, so the idea, would blunt the appeal of nationalism. In 1974 Yugoslavia witnessed its fourth constitutional overhaul in less than 30 years. It followed the spirit of the preceding amendments. Kosovo and Vojvodina became ―constituent elements‖ of the Federation although neither gained the status of a republic (Clark 2000: 39). While their inferior status with regard to Serbia was formally maintained, in terms of rights and obligations they now held powers similar to the Yugoslav republics and gained direct access to the federal level bypassing the governing institutions of the Serbian republic.422 Kosovo received a ―direct and equitable representation in all its Party and state bodies‖ (Vickers 1998: 178). It was represented in the Federal Chamber of the Yugoslav Assembly, had the right to propose laws and other legal acts within the competence of the Chamber of Republics and Provinces, and got a representation at Yugoslavia‘s Federal Court and the Constitutional Court. Most importantly, however, the 1974 constitution endowed Kosovo with veto powers within the shared Vice-Presidency of the Federation. Kosovo and Vojvodina effectively gained control over all matters affecting them within the Serbian Republic. Yugoslavia now had eight fully-fledged federal entities with Tito towering above. In Kosovo affirmative action-like policies, meant to secure the loyalty of Kosovo‘s Albanians, were implemented. Kosovo became the target of a massive program of industrialization and job creation in order to foster its integration into Yugoslavia. Jobs created in the public service, for instance, were reserved for Albanians on a parity basis and bilingualism became a condition of employment (Vickers 1998: 180). At the As the text of the 1974 constitution reads: Yugoslavia is ―a federal republic of free and equal nations and nationalities,‖ and ―The working people, and the nations and nationalities, shall exercise their sovereign rights in the Socialist Republics, and in the Socialist Autonomous Provinces‖ (quoted in Malcolm 1998: 328). 422

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end, however, policies like these together with subsidies to keep deficient industries running did not alleviate the economic distress in the face of an ever-growing population. The effects of the investment programs were marginal at best. Until Yugoslavia‘s dismemberment Kosovo remained underdeveloped, with little industry, high unemployment, a dismal illiteracy rate, and an average income far below the federal average. 423 Yugoslavia‘s economic policies not only failed to improve things, they made them worse. While the Federation‘s bureaucratically regulated economy spurred the political competition among its entities for the allocation of resources, Yugoslavia‘s ethnofederalism exacerbated the resulting conflicts. Kosovo‘s Albanian leadership, eager to get more subsidies from the center, stressed the region‘s underdevelopment (Vickers 1998: 174). But the struggle over federal spending and the frustration created by Kosovo‘s economic backwardness became increasingly framed in nationalist terms. After all, Kosovo was not just a region but an Albanian homeland within Yugoslavia and this conferred it additional rights – at least morally. Yugoslavia, so the idea, had to care for Kosovo because it was the place where Yugoslavia‘s Albanians realized their right to self-determination. In terms of the goal of federation-wide equality among nations and nationalities, this required economic support and, for some, greater political autonomy (Kosovo Commission 2000: 38). With hindsight, the devolution of federal powers, though well-intentioned, proved to be self-defeating. The 1974 constitution had considerably narrowed the powers of the Federation while extending those of the Republics and Autonomous Provinces. Yugoslavia‘s constitutional structure became utterly complex but Tito‘s authority had provided for a final arbiter in the inner-Yugoslav struggles. With his death on 4 May 1980 went the guarantor of its viability. The Presidency of the Federation now rotated among the federal entities. The more prosperous ones like Slovenia and Croatia increasingly perceived the federal arrangements as economically burdensome. Politically, the provisions of the 1974 constitution were particularly resented in Serbia where many saw the powers of the Provinces as a constitutional aberration. The Federation became difficult to govern and necessary economic reforms were painful. The whole Yugoslav experiment began to slide into the abyss. Tito‘s death ushered in a new phase of nationalist activism across Yugoslavia. In March 1981 riots broke out in Prishtina which were violently suppressed. The unrest sent shockwaves through the Federation. All over In the 1980s Kosovo‘s Gross Material Product (not including services) per capita was less than 30 percent of the Yugoslav average and on the decline (Kosovo Commission 2000: 37). In 1990, although comprising more than 8 percent of Yugoslavia‘s population, its share in the overall Social Product stood at about 2 percent only (Suster 1999: 377 [Table 1.]). In the mid-1980s the average income of workers in Kosovo was only 78 percent of the Yugoslav average. And in 1988, with more than half of its inhabitants already urbanized, Kosovo had the highest illiteracy rate for person over 10 years of age, with 17.6 percent compared to an average of less than 10 percent across the eight Yugoslav entities (see Sundhaussen 2007: 495 [Tabelle 4]). 423

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Yugoslavia ―people were now increasingly identifying with their national status, and the Albanian demonstrations were merely the most public manifestation of this trend‖ (Vickers 1998: 214). According to Vickers, the events in Kosovo signaled not only the end of peaceful coexistence in the province but, at the same time, ―the beginning of the demise of Yugoslavia‖ (Vickers 1998: 217). For Yugoslavia‘s Albanian population the 1981 riots – to which I will return in a moment – had a particular significance. The crackdown was fierce and the political climate deteriorated. Inter-ethnic relations within Kosovo, which had always been marked by a clear status difference, went from bad to worse (Clark 2000: 43). The period of Albanization was followed by policies aimed at containing the nationalist fervor it had caused in the first place. The year 1981 thus constitutes the second turning point in Kosovo‘s recent history. In the 1980s, there was a widespread perception among Serbs that the future of Yugoslavia and thus of the Serb nation was threatened by the path the Federation had been taking. The reforms since the late 1960s had not been to their advantage and undermined the state‘s unity. The budgetary austerity measures now introduced compounded the widely shared impression that they were ―slowly losing their status … in the Yugoslav Federation as a whole‖ (Vickers 1998: 232). Some went back to Rankovic‘s fall to argue that this had been the moment when things began to unravel. His funeral in 1983 became a show of Serb defiance as the crowd attending hailed him as a national leader. However, because of their demographic distribution and economic interdependence, the Serb nation‘s fate was still seen as bound to Yugoslavia. Voices grew louder that called for a recentralization of power in order to check centrifugal forces. In the first place, this meant reasserting Serb supremacy in ―their‖ republic and to wrest control of economic policy and the budget away from Vojvodina and Kosovo.424 Kosovo, in particular, came to stand for what was supposedly wrong with the status quo. Kosovo‘s Serbs had already begun to mobilize against what they perceived as discriminating policies and growing Albanian assertiveness in the wake of the 1974 constitution. Now their complaints received ever greater attention in central Serbia. Kosovo, though considered widely as a barren place, exerted a particular emotional appeal for it had been construed as the cradle of the Serb nation – an ancestral homeland with a rich cultural heritage of Serbian Orthodox churches and monasteries. Above all, this was the place of an infamous defeat of a Christian army at the hands of the Ottomans back in 1389 which, in the nineteenth

Note that the 1974 constitution not only had endowed the two provinces with veto-powers within the Vice-Presidency offsetting Serbian tutelage. By 1981, according to Petrovic and Stefanovic, Article 301 of the Serbian Constitution stated that ―enacting legislation for the entire territory of the Socialist Republic of Serbia (including the autonomous provinces) required mutual agreement of all three assemblies (the assembly of the Socialist Republic of Serbia, as well as two provincial assemblies)‖ whereas changes to the constitutions of Vojvodina and Kosovo ―could be made completely autonomously, without the necessity to consult or seek recommendation from any organ of the Socialist Republic of Serbia‖ (2010: 1099). 424

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century, became ―the fundamental mythical moment‖ for Serb nationalism (Bieber 2002: 95).425 It was only in the aftermath of the 1981 riots, however, that the Serbian media began to report extensively on the injustices Serbs and Montenegrins suffered in Kosovo – some true, others exacerbated or simply made up (Mertus 1999). Their dwindling numbers as a consequence of outmigration was highlighted and the Church weighed in to defend the cause of preserving the Serb identity of Kosovo (Bieber 2002: 99). Throughout the 1980s the fate of Kosovo received ever-growing attention in Serbian politics and the media. It eventually drew huge crowds into the streets willing to manifest their attachment to their nation and thus to Kosovo (Sundhaussen 2007: 407-8). Amid the uncertainty and soul-searching conducted in the aftermath of Tito‘s death, an ambitious apparatchik with little charisma had appeared on the scene: Slobodan Milosevic. Milosevic had never shown particular interest in the question of Kosovo. But soon he would discover that Kosovo and, more particularly, concerns for the situation of Kosovo‘s Serbs could be tapped in order to advance his political career. In search of popular support for his power grab he began to adopt nationalist positions (Sundhaussen 2007: 403-4). During a much-publicized visit to Kosovo in 1987 Milosevic promised help to the visibly embattled Serbs he met there. In Serbia nationalist fervor gripped the public mood and Milosevic knew how to exploit this. In the summer of the following year, nationalist rallies conjuring nationalist mythology and demanding the reinstauration of Serbian control over the two autonomous provinces took place across the republic. But Milosevic‘s moment came in 1989 when, on the occasion of the six hundredth anniversary of the 1389 battle, he addressed a crowd of about a million people at Gazimestan on the outskirts of Prishtina, where the fight is said to have taken place. His speech, relating the heroism of the battle to present challenges and, in particular, to the fate of the Serbs in Yugoslavia, set the tone for what was to come.426 Kosovo now stood for the Serb struggle to reassert their preeminent role in Yugoslavia and to preserve the unity of the Federation. Kosovo, in fact, was more than just a national symbol. Reforming the Federation in the defense of Serb interests required commanding a majority of the eight votes in the Yugoslav Co-Presidency comprised by representatives of the eight federal entities. Milosevic, by then boss of the Serbian branch of the League of

The fact that the defeat is said to have been caused by treason endows Serb nationalism with a martyr complex that aggravates its psychological impact. For details on the battle and the mythology surrounding it, see Sundhaussen (2007), Bieber (2002), and Malcolm (1998). 425

Milosevic (1989) somberly stated that, ―The Kosovo heroism has been inspiring our creativity … Six centuries later, now, we are being again engaged in battles and are facing battles.‖ And, closing his speech he exclaimed: ―Long live the eternal remembrance of the heroism in Kosovo! Long live Serbia! Long live Yugoslavia! Long live peace and brotherhood between the people!‖ 426

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Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY),

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created a pro-Serb voting block by taking control of the Party

organizations in Vojvodina, Montenegro, and Kosovo. It did not stop there. What followed was the successive abolition of the autonomies of Vojvodina and Kosovo – yet on paper they remained federal entities in order to preserve their voting rights. In early 1989, under duress, the Kosovo Assembly ratified amendments to the Constitution of the Socialist Republic of Serbia voted earlier by the Serbian assembly. The Serbian assembly, in turn, ratified the amendments on 28 March and thus effectively abolished Kosovo‘s autonomy (Vickers 1998: 234). 428 Milosevic‘s strategy, far from allowing him to strengthen the Federation, was only grist on the mill of separatists all over Yugoslavia.

4) ALBANIAN NATIONALISM IN KOSOVO In the wake of the constitutional changes enacted after 1966 the Kosovo was albanianized. ―The Albanian language emerged from the ghetto and, before long, textbooks and other publications from Albania proper flooded the schools and libraries of the province‖ (Glenny 2000: 586). The body of Albanian nationalist thought which had evolved under Zogu and Hoxha swayed Kosovo‘s youth. In the 1970s, Albanians from across Yugoslavia flocked to the University of Prishtina and there got in touch with ―their‖ history. The self-perception of Yugoslavia‘s Albanians began to change. Albanianism fell on fertile grounds in a federation whose structure was determined by ethnonational categories. Though obscured by communist doctrine, nation and nationality was the main interpretative frame for all things political. And Albanians were catching up.

First Stirrings of Albanian Nationalism In 1963, Adem Demaci, for many years the symbol of Albanian national resistance in Yugoslavia, had founded the clandestinely operating LRBSh. It had its coming out in April 1964, as told above (Gashi 2010: 43). A few years later, in 1968, on the eve of Flag Day, commemorating the declaration of the Albanian state in 1912, demonstrations took place in several cities across Kosovo. Led by students hundreds gathered in the streets of Prishtina. Slogans like ―Kosovo – Republic!‖; ―We want self-determination‖; ―Long live Enver Hoxha‖ or 427

The Communist Party of Yugoslavia (CPY) turned into the League of Communists of Yugoslavia (LCY) in 1953.

According to Vickers, the new constitution ―defined the status of the provinces as ‗a form of territorial autonomy‘, whereby they were given the right to create their own statutes, but with the prior agreement of the National Assembly‖ (Vickers 1998: 235). Kosovo‘s official name was also changed back into Kosovo and Metohija (KOSMET). In sum, the new constitution ―reverted to the principles of the 1963 federal constitution, which had stipulated that the rights of the provinces were to be prescribed in the constitution of the Serbian Republic‖ (Vickers 1998: 235). The controversial constitutional provisions enacted since 1968 were effectively repealed. 428

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―Long live Adem Demaci‖ were heard (Gashi 2010: 45, 58; Malcolm 1998: 325). Riots erupted as the police violently repressed the protests. It would, however, take many more years until Albanian nationalism galvanized larger sections of Kosovo‘s Albanian population. Crucial for the growth of Albanian nationalist sentiment in Kosovo were the ―close cultural ties established between Tirana and Pristina‖ in the early 1970s (Vickers 1998: 183). The normalization of Yugoslavia‘s relations with Albania falls into the period of constitutional reforms. The system of higher education in Kosovo expanded and offered an increasing number of programs in Albanian. Already in 1970, the newly established Prishtina University signed a cooperation agreement with the University of Tirana. Over the next five years more than 200 teachers came over from Albania using textbooks printed in Tirana (Malcolm 1998: 326). The focus on the humanities and the establishment of an Albanology department, in particular, encouraged ―Albanians to rediscover their national identity by studying their history, literature and traditions‖ (Vickers 1998: 182). Cultural exchange programs brought them into closer contact with Albania. By all accounts, Prishtina University became a major hub for the formulation and promotion of Albanian nationalist consciousness in Yugoslavia. A new generation of urbanized and educated Albanians came of age, conscious of its national identity. And they were many. Prishtina University rapidly grew. Within ten years, the number of students attending annually was more than 30 000 (Malcolm 1998: 326). The availability of higher education in Albanian produced a new elite. It was ―composed of a few respected academics and professionals, together with a much larger number of individuals with only modest intellectual attainment or professional skill‖ (Vickers 1998: 174). Especially the latter were to play ―a crucial role‖ in the articulation and dissemination of Albanian nationalist perspectives (Vickers 1998: 174). The Yugoslav authorities did not interfere, also because boosting the student population helped to keep young people away from an already saturated job market (Vickers 1998: 197). But this only deferred the problem. In the end, all it did was to produce ―a large group of discontented but articulate unemployed young people with a growing awareness of Albanian culture and history‖ (Clark 2000: 41). By the late 1970s the situation in Kosovo was one of nationalist ferment. In 1974 students had demonstrated in Prishtina for the union of the Albanian regions of Montenegro and Macedonia with Kosovo and UDBa observed an increase in clandestine activities (Vickers 1998: 180-1). The festivities for the centennial of the League of Prizren, in 1978, were celebrated in almost every town in Kosovo (Vickers 1998: 187). Albanians grew more assertive in expressing their cultural identity. ―At Pristina University and in high schools students boycotted non-Albanian classes, ostracised ‗hostile‘ teachers, and refused to study Serbo-Croat‖ (Vickers

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1998: 188). Now the authorities reacted with massive arrests – but the momentum was on the side of Albanian nationalism.

The Unrest of 1981 The 1981 protest and the riots it provoked were a watershed for the development of Albanian nationalism in Kosovo. All began by complaints about overcrowded dorms and bad food in the university canteen. A first spontaneous gathering on 11 March in Prishtina was dispersed by the police. Toward the end of the month the protests became politicized and transformed into a popular movement. Protesters demanded a ―unified Albania‖ and the slogan ―Kosovo – Republic!‖ was heard again (Vickers 1998: 198). According to Gashi, the most acclaimed slogan was ―Republic and Constitution, either given to us, or taken in a fight‖ (2010: 77). Things escalated and in the first days of April when the demonstrations, now comprising students, high school pupils, workers, and peasants, spread all over Kosovo (AI 1981: 344). The rallies turned ugly when Serbs and Montenegrins were attacked and their shops looted. The province-wide protest movement culminated in violent clashes with security forces. According to official statements at that time up to eleven people were killed and several hundred injured during the unrest, but Amnesty International later claimed to have received information of more than 300 dead (AI 1985: 2). In reaction to the clashes additional security forces were deployed in order to restore order. A general state of emergency was declared over Kosovo, curfews were imposed and thousands arrested (Malcolm 1998: 335; Vickers 1998: 198; AI 1985: 2). The last demonstration took place in May, but the students occupying the university‘s dormitories were eventually dispersed by riot police (Vickers 1998: 199). In the aftermath of the unrest the unrest Prishtina University suspended its operations and was closed down. Students were sent home, the University Council was dissolved, and a ―mandatory administration‖ installed (Vickers 1998: 199). The Kosovo branch of the LCY identified the University as the locus of nationalist incubation and several people lost their jobs. A decade later the then Serbian rector of Prishtina University would call it a ―factory of evil‖ in which hatred for all that is Serbian had been nourished (Clark 2000: 101). When activity resumed after 1981, student numbers were cut back and the programs oriented toward the sciences (Clark 2000: 43). But the genie was out of the bottle. The students who returned to their hometowns and villages spread word of what had happened and fanned the flames of Albanian nationalism (Vickers 1998: 199). The official interpretation of the 1981 protests left no doubt about the nature of what was going on in Kosovo. Leading Albanian figures of the LCY in Kosovo denounced Albanian separatism and pointed their fingers at 309

Tirana (Malcolm 1998: 336). Yugoslavia‘s Federal Secretary of Internal Affairs, Stane Dolanc was quoted saying that ―Albanian irredentists are now showing their true face; they no longer talk about a republic but say ‗long live Enver Hoxha‘‖ (Tanjug on 29 September 1981, quoted by Vickers 1998: 198). The perception was one of an irredentist threat posed by Albanian nationalism to the Yugoslav Federation. 429 Indeed, the events in Kosovo had an impact on other Albanian-inhabited areas. In late July 1981 security forces were put on alert in Albanian-majority western Macedonia ―after leaflets were distributed calling on Albanians to rebel‖ (Vickers 1998: 207). And in 1986 the LCY publicly acknowledged that Albanian nationalism and separatist tendencies among Macedonia‘s Albanians was a serious problem that had to be addressed urgently (Reuter 1987: 13941). The Kosovo branch of the LCY had to bear the political responsibility for the events. Despite the condemnations it had issued in the wake of the riots, it was blamed for having neglected the struggle against Greater Albanian nationalism (Vickers 1998: 200). A purge within the Party ranks began. Yet this would only make things worse.430 By dismissing Albanians loyal to Yugoslavia and the LCY valuable allies were lost for the struggle against the separatism menace. Even the staunchest Titoists in Kosovo were now forced to reconsider their position. Before long a new generation of younger and better educated Albanians gained control of the Kosovo Party organization. They viewed themselves ―as the bearers of the ‗national cause,‘ responsible for the progress and destiny of Yugoslavia‘s Albanian population‖ (Vickers 1998: 226). The purge effectively albanianized the Kosovo branch of the LCY. Trying to stem the tide, Belgrade reverted to repressive policies. Belgrade decided to severe all cultural links between Prishtina and Tirana. It banned Albanian textbooks from schools and the university, introducing translated Serbian ones instead (Vickers 1998: 207). Throughout Kosovo a great number of people were arrested and found guilty of political crimes – often no more than verbal offences or the writing of political graffiti (Clark 2000: 42). In 1986 the Belgrade magazine Politika published statements of Yugoslav officials according to which, since spring 1981, 1019 individuals had received substantial prison sentences for ―political crimes of an irredentist character.‖ During the same period 6441 individual were found guilty of political offences (Reuter 1987: 137). Yet, in the mid-1980s ―hostile‖ and ―irredentist activities‖ were reported on a daily

The accusations were fueled by Albanian media. In reaction to the riots, the Tirana newspaper Zëri i Popullit (Voice of the People) argued: ―The London and Versailles Treaties, which settled the frontiers between Yugoslavia and Albania, can no longer be imposed to the detriment of the Albanian people‖ (8 April 1981, quoted in Vickers 1998: 207). 429

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Up to 500 Party members were expelled by August (Malcolm 1998: 336).

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basis.431 In sum, the 1981 protests were a turning point. They increased the alienation of Kosovo‘s Albanians from Yugoslavia and antagonized the ethnic communities. In the aftermath of the 1981 protests, Kosovo, western Macedonia, and Albanian-inhabited areas of Montenegro witnessed symbolic actions against signs of Yugoslav and Serb presence in Albanian lands. Government buildings were defaced, communist monuments and Serbian cemeteries desecrated. Armed clashes between so-called ―counter-revolutionary groups‖ and the police occurred. In Kosovo, Serbs and Montenegrins felt increasingly besieged and, given the poor state of the economy, decided to leave (Reuter 1987: 141-5). Although signs of growing hostility were ubiquitous, the political goals behind Kosovo-Albanian assertiveness remained obscure. The so-called ―natural solution‖, that is, the unification of all Albanian lands continued to be in the minds of the young activists. Yet many Albanians in Yugoslavia were irritated by Enver Hoxha‘s apparent lack of interest in their fate. Vickers claims that as far as they had had an opportunity of getting to know how life was across the border they realized that ―life in Albania was far worse than it was in Kosovo‖ (1998: 181). The Albanian students of Prishtina University, however, who were praising Hoxha and talked about the unification ―tended to see Albania through rose-tinted glasses, believing that the Tirana regime had managed to eliminate unemployment and create an egalitarian society…‖ (Vickers 1998: 202). But even among the latter many were already questioning the political viability of the irredentist project. Young activists, influenced by Marxist critique of nationalism, devised a staged approach to the Albanian question. They acknowledged that the redrawing of Yugoslavia‘s external borders was highly unlikely. Not content with reiterating the demand for the status of republic for Kosovo, they began to advocate an Albanian Socialist Republic within Yugoslavia. All considered, it only carried the principle of self-determination, on which Yugoslavia was built, to its logical conclusion. Leftist student groups like the illegal Communist Party of Marxist Leninist Albanians in Yugoslavia (Partia Marksiste Leniniste Shqiptare në Jugosllavi or PKMLShJ) thus dissociated themselves from the older more hardline nationalists. It is interesting to note that the leading figure of Albanian nationalism in Kosovo, Adem Demaci, who spent a prison term at the time of the 1981 riots, was upset by these developments. Writes Gashi: ―He [Demaci] claims that at that time he was bothered by the ideological side of the protests in 1981, because he thought that this would damage the national movement, as it created a rift and got in the way of help from the democratic world‖ (2010: 78). The Albanian nationalist movement in Kosovo began to show fissures.

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For official data on the years 1985 and 1986 illustrating the level of these activities, see Reuter (1987: 137-8)

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The Movement of 1989 After a few years of relative calm Milosevic‘s rise upended the situation. His actions would provoke a massive movement of protest in Kosovo. In late 1988, his attempt to take control of Kosovo‘s Party structure and its government met with resistance. The Albanian LCY leadership in the Province balked and initiated public debates on Kosovo‘s constitutional future in order to counter Milosevic‘s designs (Clark 2000: 47). When he tried to remove them, miners from the huge industrial complex of Trepca near Mitrovica in the north of Kosovo set off to march on Prishtina (Vickers 1998: 231; Malcolm 1998: 343). On their way they were joined by students and factory workers. Rather than demanding extension of Albanian rights or unification with Albania, their protest was ―in defence of Yugoslavia and the constitution of 1974‖ (Clark 2000: 47). According to Vickers, they carried ―Yugoslav and Albanian flags and portraits of Tito‖ (1998: 231, 233). It was the last time that demonstrators in Kosovo would manifest their loyalty to the old Yugoslavia (Maliqi 1993: 123). Although the marching miners sent a clear signal, the Kosovo LCY leadership was forced to resign nonetheless. In February 1989 the Serbian assembly passed constitutional amendments that would effectively abolish the large autonomy Kosovo had gradually gained since the late 1960s. Again the miners would lead the protests. On 20 February the nightshift at Trepca refused to re-emerge, barricaded itself underground and went on hunger strike (Clark 2000: 49). Their key demand was unequivocal: ―No retreat from the fundamental principles of the 1974 constitution‖ (Malcolm 1998: 343). The authorities first ignored them, but a general strike paralyzed the whole province as people mobilized in solidarity with the miners. People ―spontaneously walked out of their schools, closed their shops and ceased trading in the market‖ (Vickers 1998: 234). The size of the protest exceeded the student demonstrations of 1968 and 1981. In what later came to be interpreted as a national rebellion, Kosovo‘s Albanians emerged for the first time as a political community in its own right. The onslaught on the status they had gained as Albanians through Kosovo‘s autonomy galvanized them. Although the miners were eventually tricked into ending their strike followed by a crackdown on the protest movement, the protests had set a precedent (Malcolm 1998: 344).432 The final confrontation of that period came on 23 March 1989, a few weeks later. The Kosovo Assembly in Prishtina was asked to ratify the constitutional amendments voted earlier by the Serbian parliament. The amendments effectively abolished Kosovo‘s autonomy and thus its status as constituent element of the Federation. Kosovo‘s deputies were essentially asked to vote themselves out of power. Under chaotic circumstances, with tanks stationed outside the building and security officials and members of the Serbian It was announcement that Milosevic‘s men who were now in charge of the LCY in Kosovo had resigned in their turn. But Belgrade rejected their resignation, declared a state of emergency and repressed the movement. Managers and miners from Trepca as well as the former LCY leadership were arrested (Clark 2000: 51), 432

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branch of LCY inside, the constitution was adopted in an open vote. Outside the assembly riots erupted and, in the days that followed, more than two dozen people were killed in clashes all over Kosovo (Vickers 1998: 2356). Hundreds were arrested (Clark 2000: 52). The abolition of Kosovo‘s autonomy and the draconian measures in response to the protest had burned the bridges. A return to the status quo ante was no option anymore. Remembers one of the activists: ―people said, ‗OK, me too‘. Everybody came to declare openly their support for an independent republic of Kosovo and against Serbian domination‖ (quoted in Clark 2000: 53). The question now arose of how to wage the struggle for independence. Starting in the spring of 1990 ―the Albanians abandoned violence and embraced passive resistance, which became a hallmark of the next phase of the Albanian nationalist movement in Kosovo‖ (Vickers 1998: 243). This attitude would dominate the Kosovar struggle in the first half of the 1990s. It defined the newly emerging Kosovo-Albanian political identity by setting them apart from the Serbs.

5) THE RUGOVA YEARS: PEACEFUL RESISTANCE The LCY dissolved in January 1990 accelerating the process of Yugoslavia‘s disintegration. Yugoslav socialism lost its role as ideological safeguard against the centrifugal forces of nationalism. Tito‘s dream of unity in diversity gave way to a politics of difference. Slovenia and Croatia declared their independence in the summer of 1991. Violent clashes erupted; the Federation had run its course. Meanwhile, in Kosovo, the conflict with Serbia continued to be waged as a constitutional struggle. For the next two years, Albanian politicians sought to defend by legal means what was left of Kosovo‘s autonomy. Armed resistance was ruled out given that the might of Belgrade‘s security forces was overbearing. Yet the situation worsened. Kosovo‘s Albanians became the victims of ever more oppressive policies. A new political force emerged from the constitutional struggle. The LDK (Democratic League of Kosovo or Lidhja Demokratike e Kosovës in Albanian) provided the Kosovo Albanians with a new leadership. It advocated a prudent political strategy scaling down Albanian nationalist aspirations to a ―Kosovo first‖ policy, all while stressing the need for peaceful resistance. This left its mark on the collective consciousness of Kosovo‘s Albanians. Following Kosovo‘s declaration of independence in the fall of 1991 the LDK became the sole legitimate authority in Kosovo. It would dominate its politics for the net and establish a parallel state – until the arrival of the KLA.

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The Constitutional Struggle and the LDK In the summer of 1990 Belgrade called a referendum on a new constitution for Serbia. The constitution rebranded Serbia and made it look like a nation-state, albeit within the Yugoslav Federation. The attribute ―socialist‖ was dropped and it became the Republic of Serbia. Kosovo and Vojvodina were de facto reduced to mere regions within Serbia (Vickers 1998: 245). From a legal point of view the Serbian move was all too understandable. The presence of territorial autonomies within a constituent republic with powers transcending the latter and putting both on an equal footing within the next higher constitutional level had been an awkward construction. Now, with Milosevic‘s maneuvers to keep Yugoslavia together looking futile, the time of playing with constitutional subtleties had run out. On the eve of the referendum the authorities adjourned the session of the still functional Kosovo Assembly, fearing that the deputies vote a constitution for Kosovo in order to preempt the new Serbian one. On 2 July, the Albanian members of the Assembly, barred from entering the assembly building, gathered in front of it and proclaimed the sovereign Republic of Kosovo within the Yugoslav Federation (Vickers 1998: 245). This secessionist move was immediately countered by Belgrade. On 5 July, it dissolved the Kosovo parliament and Serbia‘s National Assembly took administrative and executive control of the Province (Vickers 1998: 245). It was the definitive death of the constitution of 1974. The Serbianization of Kosovo began. The Albanian deputies remained defiant. On 7 September 1990, they secretly met in Kacanik, a village close to the border with Macedonia. Against the background of another general strike that brought public life in Kosovo to a halt, they adopted the so-called Kacanik Constitution. Using a language resembling the new Serbian constitution, it defined the Republic of Kosovo as a ―democratic state of the Albanian people and of members of other nations and national minorities who are its citizens: Serbs, Montenegrins, Croats, Turks, Romanians and others living in Kosovo‖ (quoted in Vickers 1998: 245). Only three weeks later, on 28 September, the new Serbian constitution was adopted. It stipulated that Vojvodina and Kosovo were autonomous provinces within the Republic of Serbia with guaranteed rights as laid down in five articles at the end of the document.433 Kosovo was firmly placed within the constitutional framework of the Serbian Republic but de jure preserved its autonomy status. On the ground things looked different, however.

The two provinces were granted separate statutes and provincial parliaments to be elected in a secret ballot. Also, they were endowed with institutions to discharge constitutional duties in their competence (article 108-112). Members of ethnic minorities were guaranteed the following collective rights: official use of their mother-tongue (article 8; para. 2); to be educated in their mother-tongue (article 32, para. 4); and freedom of religion (article 41). Yet, there was left no doubt on the primacy of the Serbian constitution and the Belgrade government should conflicts arise (Republic of Serbia 1990). All considered, the new constitution followed the spirit of the constitutional amendments of March 1989 which had curtailed the provisions of the 1974 constitution. 433

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Facing recalcitrant politicians and an outraged public, the Serbian authorities sought to create facts on the ground. Having lost the allegiance of Kosovo‘s majority population they resorted to a policy of bland oppression and Serbianization – a policy that, according to some observers, ushered in a state of Apartheid (Vickers 1998: 248, 263; Malcolm 1998: 352). Already in the summer of 1990 local radio and television stations had been taken over by the Serbian authorities, and the major Albanian newspaper was banned (HRW 1993: 100-3). With civil and political rights for Albanians already all but nonexistent, the Serb authorities now were set to destroy the material basis of their livelihood. Albanians were kicked out of their jobs in the thousands leaving them without social or health insurance and threatened by eviction from their homes where these were the property of the companies they had worked for (HRW 1993: 107-11; HRW 1992: 36-8). Companies in the province stopped working, technical equipment was removed, and financial assets looted (Vickers 1998: 249). A Human Rights Watch report of 1992 found that ―since Serbia assumed direct jurisdiction over Kosovo, the violations against ethnic Albanians have been part of a systematic campaign to marginalize the ethnic Albanians socially, economically and politically and to force their emigration from Kosovo‖ (HRW 1992: 4). Kosovo became a ―police state‖ in which human rights violations were ubiquitous (HRW 1993: xiii). Kosovo‘s institutions were now staffed by Serbs and Montenegrins or entirely suspended. The judiciary was put under Serbian control and by 1993 the vast majority of Albanian judges and district attorneys had been dismissed to be replaced by Serbian officials (HRW 1993: 61). The health care system was cleansed of Albanian staff (HRW 1993: 126) and, starting in the fall of 1991 several thousand school teachers were laid off (HRW 1993: 113-4). Insofar schools remained open for Albanians the curricula were now dictated by Belgrade (HRW 1993: 112). On several occasions the police even prevented Albanians from entering the premises of schools which had been closed (HRW 1993: 114). Access to Prishtina University was also restricted and faculty was fired before Albanian students ceased to attend altogether beginning with the 1991/92 school year (HRW 1993: 117).434 Cultural life was also targeted. Prishtina‘s theatre manager was removed, the ballet and museums closed, and the National Library ―relieved‖ of Albanian-language books. Even Albanian street names were serbianized in order to reflect Serb history and culture (Vickers 1998: 264).435

The number of Albanians student had to be reduced to the number of Serb and Montenegrin ones. A law on universities in 1992 specified that instruction in minority languages (e.g., Albanian) was left to the discretion of the university boards. Because Prishtina University was now administered by Serbs, the implications were clear to all, and since Albanians rejected the newly imposed administrators, studying there was made all but impossible (HRW 1993: 1167). Meanwhile, however, Serb, Montenegrin, and foreign students continued their studies as normal. 434

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The Albanians did the same, albeit clandestinely, in order to stress their right to primacy.

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The situation in Kosovo looked bleak. With its parliament paralyzed, its Albanian deputies in hiding and institutions run by Serbia, it was the LDK who was going to steer Kosovo toward independence. Funded in December 1989 and led by the literary critic Ibrahim Rugova, the LDK was the product of the larger political transformation taking place at that time. With leftist doctrine rapidly losing ground, the way was open for new political formations. The LDK‘s founders, according to Vickers, were mostly members of the LCY ―and as such not seen at first as a significant threat by the Belgrade authorities‖ (1998: 250). They found in Rugova a leader who was not compromised by Yugoslav politics but well known and respected in Kosovo and abroad (Clark 2000: 55-6).436 In the beginning the LDK resembled more a popular movement than a political party. By the end of 1991 it was already the biggest and most influential organization of Kosovo Albanians claiming more than 700 000 members (Kosovo Commission 2000: 45). In May 1991, at its first congress, the LDK stated as its goal a sovereign Republic of Kosovo within a loose Yugoslav confederation (Pula 2004: 806). Yet, the declaration of independence by Slovenia and Croatia and the outbreak of fighting made clear that this was not a viable option. Among Yugoslavia‘s peoples referenda had become the dominant means to assert their right to self-determination.437 The Kosovo-Albanian leadership resolved to do the same. The LDK mobilized its structures, which covered the whole of Kosovo, to organize a referendum on independence during fall. At the end of September, the clandestine parliament voted the ―Resolution on Independence and Sovereignty of Kosovo‖, and four days later people, in all secrecy, went to the ballot box. The resolution was approved by a huge margin and on 19 October 1991 the deputies amended the Kacanik constitution and declared Kosovo‘s independence (Vickers 1998: 251).438 A government was established on the same day, initially based in Ljubljana it moved to Bonn in 1992. Yet, Kosovo‘s independence was not recognized by the international community.439

He was known, among other things, for his defense of intellectual freedoms as president of the Kosovo Writers Association. 436

From 1990 to the summer of 1993 no less than eleven referenda took place across former Yugoslavia. In these its peoples declared things like autonomy, sovereignty, independence, and sometimes even association with one another, or at least their readiness for it (Sundhaussen 2008: fn. 814). 437

Kosovo‘s independence was overwhelmingly supported. With a turnout of 87 percent, 99.9 percent declared in favor of independence (Vickers 1998: 251). 438

On 23 December 1991, Kosovo applied to the European Community for recognition but was refused. The only country to recognize Kosovo at that time would be Albania. 439

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Kosovo’s Independence: The Parallel State The referendum had given popular legitimacy to the LDK and it came out victorious in the parliamentary and presidential elections held on 24 May 1992. It gained 96 out of 140 seats in the shadow parliament and with an alleged 99.9 percent of the vote Rugova was elected President.440 Rugova and the LDK could now rightfully claim to be the legitimate representatives of Kosovo‘s Albanians. The LDK now worked to consolidate its control of the political life in Kosovo. Its primary political goal was to present Kosovo as a ―coherent and unified mini-state in the making‖ in order to increase its chance of international recognition (Vickers 1998: 259). Its political strategy had three interrelated dimensions: first, the organization of state institutions paralleling those under Serbia‘s control; second, a strict adherence to the principle of nonviolent resistance; and, third, a focus on Kosovo and its Albanian polity. The establishment of the parallel state structures was not intended but rather a policy born out of necessity. It resulted from the need to provide a population with basic services which were not provided anymore or which they did not want to use because the institutions were staffed by Serbs. The Kosovar parallel state thus consisted of a ―loose conglomeration of educational and cultural institutions, health services, social assistance networks, political parties, local financial councils‖ (Pula 2004: 798).441 The LDK government-in-exile claimed to coordinate and finance these structures. Politically, the parallel state had more of a symbolic role as it underscored the illegitimacy of the Serbian state. As Pula points out, this was not a state in the Weberian sense, but rather a collective attempt to keep alive the autonomy-era institutions and defy the Serb takeover by a sustained strategy of civil disobedience (2004: 797). Peaceful resistance became the trademark of Rugova and his LDK government. The striking miners in 1988 and 1989 had set a precedent in pursuing a strategy of nonviolent protests. As the unrest in Kosovo hit the Serbian authorities declared them illegal, but limited their interference. Even some international observers were present. The LDK won 96 seats, 5 went to Muslim Slav parties, and 29 to other Albanian parties and various independents. It is worthy of note that 14 out of the 130 seats (attributed through a mixed system) were reserved for people of Montenegrin and Serb ethnicity, but they ―refused to take up their seats‖ (Vickers 1998: 260). At the end, this did not matter since the newly elected parliament never convened – according to Vickers at least ―partly because of severe interference by the Serbian police‖ (1998: 261). 440

Between 1992 and 1998 one tenth of the 400-plus elementary schools and nearly all secondary schools kept working in makeshift classrooms (Clark 2000: 98). The university‘s departments and training colleges were relocated in 250 private buildings (Clark 2000: 101). Although a remarkable achievement, the overall impact on primary education was disastrous, and the quality of secondary education suffered significantly (Clark 2000: 99, 101-2). The Kosovar Mother Theresa Association – no relation to Mother Theresa herself but since she is an Albanian heroine it seemed appropriate to use her name – responded to the emergency in the health care system and, until 1998, set up 91 clinics all over Kosovo (Clark 2000: 107). Despite serious constraints several media outlets close to the LDK continued to provide Kosovo Albanian‘s with news (notably via the newspaper Bujku). The financial hardship due to massive layoffs was partially compensated by transfer payments from Kosovo Albanians abroad (Clark 2000: 108-9, 112-3). 441

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television screens in the West, audiences grew accustomed to seeing the same image recurring: several hundred Albanian men walking peacefully in protest of yet another onslaught by the security forces and mourning their dead, raising their hands to show the two-fingered victory sign. The turn to pacifism, like the parallel state, was not so much a choice but a necessity, as Rugova admitted (Clark 2000: 65). An armed uprising, at that point, was not an option. In 1992 he famously remarked: ―we have nothing to set against the tanks and other modern weaponry in Serbian hands. We would have no chance of successfully resisting the army. In fact the Serbs only wait for a pretext to attack the Albanian population and wipe it out. We believe it is better to do nothing and stay alive than be massacred‖ (quoted in Vickers 1998: 264).442 The LDK did everything it could to marginalize those groups who called for violent action, posing as the ―sole representative of Kosovar interests‖ – and this interest demand peaceful resistance (Vickers 1998: 250). Contrary to the specter of an Albanian irredenta and a looming Greater Albania, Rugova and the LDK government were concerned first and foremost with the fate of Kosovo. Until 1991 they had defined their goals with the framework of Yugoslavia. Yugoslavia‘s implosion made it necessary to reconsider the political options for Kosovo and Yugoslav‘s Albanian‘s more generally. In October 1991, the Coordinating Committee of Albanian Political Parties in Yugoslavia, comprising representatives from Montenegro, Macedonia, and Kosovo and chaired by Rugova, passed a declaration putting forward three options. In case the Yugoslav Federation remained in place and preserved its internal borders they demanded for the Kosovo the status as a sovereign and independent state with the right of association. In this case Yugoslavia‘s Albanians should be recognized as a nation. If however domestic borders were to change an Albanian Republic within Yugoslavia should be created. Since the Albanian-inhabited territories in Montenegro, Macedonia, and Serbia were all bordering on Kosovo this was technically feasible. In the event of all borders becoming open to reconsideration, however, ―the Albanians would by referendum and a general declaration, proclaim territorial unification with Albania and the creation of ‗an undivided Albanian state in the Balkans with Albanian ethnic boundaries‘, namely, within the boundaries proclaimed by the First Prizren League in 1878‖ (quoted Vickers 1998: 253). The breakup of Yugoslavia rendered the third option more likely but the international community‘s position following the Badinter Commission‘s opinion that only the Yugoslav republics had a right to secede and not the two provinces put the recognition of Kosovo‘s independence even further away (Kosovo Commission 2000:

It is important to note that Serbian policy made armed resistance more difficult to organize. In 1989, Belgrade disbanded Kosovo‘s Territorial Defense Force – a paramilitary reserve force to be found in each of Yugoslavia‘s constituent entities. In 1990, most Albanians officers were removed from the provincial police force (Pula 2004: 811). Thus, in the early 1990s, structures which could have provided the nucleus for an armed revolt were lacking. 442

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58).443 Struggling to find ways of how to cope with the alleged project of Greater Serbia, the Europeans, in particular, were horrified to hear about a Greater Albania Under these circumstances the idea of a unification with Albania was not even to be contemplated. What is more, were Kosovo Albanians to look toward Tirana for their political future, they were quickly sobered. Albania‘s Albanians did not consider the pan-Albanian national struggle as a political priority. According to Vickers, there was ―a high level of apathy – even antipathy – towards them in Albania‖ (1998: 255). The non-communist opposition appeared to be more open to the project of unification. But once in power, Sali Berisha‘s Albanian Democratic Party (DP) backtracked from earlier statements calling to break down the ―Balkan wall‖ (Vickers 1998: 255). Seeking international recognition the post-communist governments in Tirana were keen to stress that the Albanian-Yugoslav border should not be changed by force (Vickers 1998: 258-9). Tirana‘s policy of ―Albania first‖ which had been a constant since 1913 was matched by Rugova‘s approach of ―Kosovo first‖. Undeterred by the Titoist origins of Kosovo‘s borders Rugova promoted a Kosovar version of Albanian nationalism. The developments since the late 1980s had given birth to a Kosovo-Albanian or Kosovar polity with its own experiences of struggle against Belgrade, its own government and a clandestine state. This nascent Kosovo-Albanian nation had by now a distinct political identity formed by the nonviolent resistance. Rugova‘s approach was successful to the point of making nonviolence ―a part of the construction of a ‗modern‘ Albanian identity‖ in Kosovo (Clark 2000: 66). Yet, his prudence had a downside. Rugova asked his people to refrain from even the slightest act that could be perceived by the Serbs as a provocation. Nonviolent resistance became passive resistance and from the fall of 1992 until 1997 no demonstration worthy of note took place in Kosovo. The struggle for independence and against Serb domination stagnated, and the international community, content that it was not confronted to yet another major crisis in the region, congratulated Rugova for his approach, but on the ground little changed – people were starting to lose faith in LDK‘s strategy. The still undecided status of Kosovo left the door open for grander political designs. Paradoxically, it was through the actions of the KLA who initially sought to realize a Greater Albania in an open challenge to Rugova‘s LDK that a Kosovo-Albanian identity was consolidated. Its armed struggle would define the Kosovars as a political community apart.

A commission was set up by the Council of Ministers of the European Community in August 1981 and chaired by the French lawyer Robert Badinter. It was tasked to provide legal advice on questions arising from the dismemberment of Yugoslavia. In his opinion it closely followed Yugoslavia‘s earlier constitutional provisions that only granted republics the right to secede. 443

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II) THE KOSOVO LIBERATION ARMY The story of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) is one of unexpected success. In the wake of Yugoslavia‘s dismemberment a handful of Kosovo Albanians decided that the time had come to shed what they saw as Serb domination and oppression. Nationalist militants in Kosovo and abroad sensed that violence would be the only way to liberate Kosovo. Against all odds a tiny and badly equipped network of people decided to challenge the sovereignty of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia – a ten-million strong industrialized state composed of Serbia and Montenegro with a powerful security apparatus inherited from socialist Yugoslavia. The eventual eviction of the Serbian authorities in 1999, whose discriminatory policies the Albanians had come to loathe, was nothing short of a ―nationalist revolution‖ (Perritt 2008: 20). The emergence of the KLA is usually related to a set of four factors. First, the military defeat of Croatia‘s Serbs in 1995 showed that despite the support they received from Belgrade, Serbs could be beaten. With tacit support from the US government, the Croatian Army had managed to conquer the Krajina turning the tables on the recalcitrant Serbs.444 Second, the Dayton Peace Accords, which ended the war in Bosnia and were signed later that year, did not address the question of Kosovo. The diplomatic recognition of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in the spring of 1996 implied that the door was closed for Kosovo‘s independence. It would be stuck in Serbia.445 Third, this confirmed the growing disillusionment among many Kosovo Albanians about Rugova‘s policy of passive resistance. Voices could be heard arguing that an armed struggle was inevitable if Kosovo was to be liberated. Finally, the opportunity to shift gears and escalate the conflict came in 1997. A severe domestic crisis rocked Albania. The anarchy in the country caused the region to be flooded with cheap weapons looted from military depots and provided the KLA with freedom of movement. Northern Albania became the KLA‘s guerrilla sanctuary (see Perritt 2008; Kola 2003).446 The KLA‘s affirmed goal – as its name implies – was to liberate Kosovo on behalf of its Albanian majority. Yet from the beginning the KLA‘s agenda was unequivocally pan-Albanian. Its founders held dear the dream of Albanian nationalism. The liberation of Kosovo was only to be the first step in the realization of the goal of the unification of Albanian lands. An Albanian Kosovo would pave the way to a Greater Albania. But the KLA was a secretive fringe group. Although Albanian nationalist ideas were commonplace, its position was a radical Codenamed Operation Storm (Operacija Oluja in Croatian), this battle of August 1995 led to the flight of more than 180 000 Serbs and, despite its ruthlessness, went unopposed by the international community. It was the price to be paid to make Dayton possible. 444

Dayton left in place a so-called outer-wall of sanctions against rump Yugoslavia. It was meant to force Belgrade to abide by the agreement but also to secure its cooperation with the ICTY and address the issue of Kosovo. 445

446

For details of Albania‘s travails and the events in 1997 and after, see Pettifer and Vickers (2009).

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one, and it would come to be considered extremist by many Albanians. As we have seen, the precise scope of the Albanian nationalist project had already become a matter of controversy among activists. Underneath the oft-rehearsed narrative of a single Albanian nation competing political agendas, if not identities, had been evolving in the course of the twentieth century. Internationally, Kosovo had been off the agenda for much of the 1990s, and it was clear that the use of violence would hardly find any support. Likewise, mere talk of Greater Albania was anathema to the international community. The KLA had to find ways to win over Albanians for its political goals. This would help to placate the outside world. In Kosovo, to begin with, it required overcoming Rugova‘s popularity, the tradition of nonviolence he had established, and the policy of ―Kosovo first.‖ The KLA eventually succeeded in legitimating its armed struggle. Yet the liberation of Kosovo with NATO‘s help proved detrimental to the project of a Greater Albania. The unification of Albanian lands remained a dream. More than that, the war in Kosovo and the political developments since have rendered its realization unlikely – and this is not only due to international pressures to stick to the present borders. The experience of life in Yugoslavia in an autonomous Kosovo and, in the early 1990s, under a Kosovar shadow state shaped a distinct political community with its own identity. The KLA‘s war would mobilize Kosovo‘s Albanians as Kosovars first and Albanians only second. Hence, as I argue, the war experience consolidated rather than shed the character of the Kosovars as a distinct Albanian polity.

1) THE ORIGINS OF THE KLA The KLA emerged in the early 1990s as an offshoot of the then Swiss-based Popular Movement of Kosovo (Lidhja Popullore e Kosovës or LPK). Its history is marked by the complex interactions between activists who had left the Kosovo for political and economic reasons and those few at home who kept local resistance alive. In the 1990s both groups grew closer in their rejection of LDK‘s dominance and Rugova‘s approach. The origins of the LPK, and thus of the KLA, can be traced back to the Kosovo of the 1970s. The Albanization of Kosovo brought about by the constitutional reforms since the late 1960s created a climate in which a more assertive nationalism could flourish. There was a welter of clandestine political groups that sprang up among Albanian students at Prishtina University. They were rather small and divided by ideological squabble which, from today‘s perspective, are difficult to gauge. Variously labeled Marxist-Leninists or Enverists – for their alleged support of Enver Hoxha – they all shared a leftist attitude. And they were in favor of Albanian

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emancipation. 447 In the 1980s these groups would play an important role in the developments that led to the creation of the LPK (Lipsius 1998). The 1981 protests were the catalyst. For many of the young activists it would be a crucial formative experience. Many were arrested, some had to spend time in jail, and others fled the country. The crackdown by the Yugoslav intelligence and security forces resulted in several attempts to reorganize and unify the fragmented movement. A first attempt to close ranks turned into tragedy. In January 1982 key figures of the movement met in southern Germany. Upon emerging from their meeting in a village near Stuttgart three were gunned down, presumably by UDBa agents (Spiegel 1982).448 A month later another group of activists gathered in Ankara with the Albanian Ambassador acting as facilitator. There it was agreed to establish the Movement for an Albanian Republic in Yugoslavia (Lëvizja për Republikën Shqipëtare në Jugosllavi or LRShJ).449 In May of the same year, another meeting was convened in Biel/Bienne in Switzerland. There another splinter group came on board. It is important to note that the LRShJ platform advocated an Albanian Republic within Yugoslavia. It was to include Yugoslavia‘s territoret etnike shqiptare – all ethnic Albanian lands (Durmishi 2011). The leftist groups thus moderated the more radical position of the previous generation of clandestine groups, like Demaci‘s LRBSh.450 The latter had been far less influenced by leftist teachings and, in the spirit of the Prizren League, had been focused on the achievement of Greater Albania. The younger generation was socialized in the 1970s and had benefited from the Albanization of Kosovo. A mix of ideological conviction and pragmatism made them contemplate an inner-Yugoslav solution to their grievances. All while denouncing Serbian chauvinism

While the LNÇK and GMLK/OMLK can be dubbed ―Enverists,‖ for they were looking toward Albania in their search for a political program, the PKMLShJ were called ―Trotskyites‖ or even ―Titoites.‖ Their orientation was decidedly leftist, even revolutionary and critical of Yugoslav revisionism. 447

The victims were key figures of the movement who had fled abroad. Jusuf Gervalla, a well know writer and political activist and his brother Bardhosh of the National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo (Lëvizja Nacional Çlirimtare e Kosovës [Lëvizja për Çlirimin Kombëtar të Kosovës] or LNÇK) were joined in Germany by Kadri Zeka of the Group of Marxist-Leninists of Kosova (Grupi Marksist Leninist i Kosovës or GMLK, later OMLK as it swapped the ―Group‖ in its name for the fancier ―Organization‖). They met in Untergruppenbach, where the Gervallas had found a new home, allegedly to discuss the merger of their respective groups. Another group, established in Germany in 1978, the Red Popular Front (Fronti i Kuq Popullor or FKP) had almost no grass-roots support in Kosovo and merged into the GMLK (see also Kubo 2010: 1139-40). 448

They were members of the Gervalla‘s LNÇK and exiles of the PKMLShJ. By some account the name of the new movement was LRSShJ with a second ―S‖ that stood for ―socialist.‖ Afterwards both acronyms were used, and it seems that there was a lot of quarreling about the interpretation of the provisions of the Ankara deal. 449

The shifts in the agenda are even reflected in names. The LNÇK became the LNÇKVShJ – the National Movement of the Liberation of Kosovo and the other Albanian Regions in Yugoslavia (Lëvizja Nacional Çlirimtare e Kosovës dhe Viseve Shqiptare në Jugosllavi). 450

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and the catastrophic economic situation, they could claim that their demands were consistent with the very principle Yugoslavia was built on: socialism and national self-determination. Already in June 1981, with the unrest in Kosovo just over and oppression in full swing, one of the groups that would eventually join the LRShJ had published a platform which rejected accusations of irredentism and called for the formation of a popular front in the struggle to earn Kosovo the status of a constituent republic.451 This, so they argued, would contribute to the better cultural and economic development of the Albanian nation in Yugoslavia and strengthen the Federation (Durmishi 2011). They not only refrained from questioning the border between Albania and Yugoslavia but pledged to maintain Yugoslavia‘s internal borders.452 The Kosovo branch of the LCY rejected all these ideas. Stressing the benefits of the 1974 constitution it argued in defense of the status quo and demanded more political realism. The LCY‘s position in favor of the status quo aside, Albanian nationalism in Kosovo displayed different approaches to the national question: one wanted to raise Kosovo‘s political status, another sought the political union of Albanians within Yugoslavia, and a third stuck to the old dream of a Greater Albania. As we have seen, with Yugoslavia gone, all three potential solutions to the Albanian question remain under discussion. Back in Kosovo, the militants who had stayed were hard pressed by the authorities. Several smaller networks were dismantled, and more than once police raids resulted in wild shootouts during which well-known militants were killed.453 Although the LRShJ maintained links with militants in Kosovo its center of activity was now in Western Europe. Being the primary destination for labor migration from the Balkans it had the additional advantage that political activity was far easier to organize there than back home.454 Nonetheless, the reach of UDBa and, in particular, infiltration by informers was a constant issue of concern. In 1985, weakened by It was published by Kadri Zeka‘s Organization of Marxist-Leninists of Kosovo (Organizatën Marksiste Leniniste të Kosovës or OMLK) in June 1981 and called Teza rreth Frontit Popullor për Republikën e Kosovës (Theses about a People‘s Front for the Republic of Kosovo) (see Durmishi 2011). 451

It is noteworthy that Tirana voiced support for a Kosovo Republic which Belgrade rebuked, citing among other reasons that such a Republic would become an ―umbrella‖ for all Albanians in Yugoslavia (RFE/RL 1981). 452

In January of 1984, Nuhi Berisha and Rexhep Mala were killed in a police raid in Prishtina and a month later it was Bajram Bahtiri‘s turn. They are variously associated with obscure groups like the Revolutionary Group (Grupi Revolucionar), the National Liberation Front (Fronti Nacional-Çlirimtar i Kosovës or FNÇK) and the War Party of Kosovoa (Partisë së luftës së Kosovës or PLK). All three were in their early 20s and 30s and were active before. They had participated in the 1981 protest and were jailed for their political activities. In other words, they were well known – at least to the security forces and intelligence services. According to official statements published in Politika, between 1981 and late 1985, the Yugoslav authorities dismantled no less than 94 illegally operating irredentist or nationalist organization in Kosovo (Reuter 1987: 137). 453

Exiles clubs were created, demonstrations organized and, most importantly, the weekly Zëri i Kosovës (Voice of Kosovo), banned in Yugoslavia, was published. 454

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internal quarrels over the political direction and mutual suspicions of collaboration, the LRShJ changed tack and became the Popular Movement for the Republic of Kosovo (Lëvizja Popullore për Republikën e Kosovës or LPRK). The events in late 1988 and 1989 fundamentally altered the situation in Kosovo. Things began to move and the LDK emerged as the dominant political force. The LPRK, however, remained on the sidelines. On the ground, it was far from having structures which could have rivaled those of the LDK. Yet many of those who had been active in the opposition during the 1980s harbored grudges against the figures which now rallied behind Rugova. Many in the LDK leadership were former members of the LCY, so-called Titoists, and back in the days these people had been their worst enemies. As an ISS report was to point out, many of the men who had organized the repression and put them in jail had been ―not Serbs but ethnic-Albanian communist police officers, judges and officials‖ (1998: 2; also Judah 2002: 109). Joining a party that was run by ―traitors‖ and legally registered with the Serbian authorities was out of question. However, Kosovo‘s declaration of independence and Rugova‘s promotion of nonviolence led to controversies within the LPRK. While some of its members joined the LDK, others remained convinced that Kosovo had to be liberated by force and denounced Rugova‘s ―Kosovo first‖ policy as a scam. An armed struggle was not only necessary but inevitable, so they thought. Rugova‘s parallel state was believed to be a dead end road. ―Those who remained behind in the LPRK were embittered and accused their former comrades of political opportunism and treachery‖ (Judah 2002: 109). The LPRK thus refrained from entering the Kosovar political arena. It did not participate in the clandestine elections of May 1992 nor did it appear to have attempted to block the consolidation of the LDK‘s predominance in the former province. The LPRK rather continued working in the shadows to organize an armed struggle. In 1991 the LPRK leadership in Switzerland began to collect money in order to establish a logistical base for the war to come (Kola 2003: 320).455 They were in close contacts with militants who had stayed in Kosovo defying the Serb presence there (Perritt 2008: 7). Since 1990, at the latest, individuals and families like Zahir Pajaziti, the Haradinajs and the Jasharis – all nowadays revered as heroes of the early independence struggle – were engaged in armed resistance in different regions across Kosovo (Hamzaj 2000: 23). In July and August 1991 half a dozen policemen were killed in guerrilla-style raids (Sullivan 2004: 71).456 Meanwhile, about a

In order to bankroll its operations, it would establish Vendlindja thërret (Homeland Calling), a fund aimed at collecting money in the émigré communities. It competed for donations with LDK‘s Three Percent Fund. 455

They operated essentially in their respective home areas. Pajaziti was active in the Lap region in the north, the Jasharis covered Drenica in central Kosovo, and the Haradinajs operated in the Dukajin region in the west, bordering on 456

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hundred Kosovo Albanians went over to Albania to receive military training but most were arrested or killed upon returning to Kosovo (Judah 2002: 111-2).457 Yet the LPRK went ahead promoting its program as an alternative to the LDK‘s civil resistance. At a meeting convened in Drenica, in the summer of 1993, the debate over a new program led to a resolution that underscored the priority of armed struggle in order to liberate Kosovo. The rhetoric, by now, was decidedly nationalist. The convoluted language of Marxism-Leninism, compromised by the recent political developments, was dropped. It was also decided that since the declaration of independence of October 1991 had made the mention of ―Republic‖ in the organization‘s name redundant, it would skip it. The LPRK was rebranded LPK, the Popular Movement for Kosovo (Judah 2002: 115; also Kubo 2010: 1108). The meeting also charged a working group, composed of a few émigré activists, with organizing for the war and to mend ties with other militants in Kosovo.458 There were some who disagreed with the direction the LPRK/LPK was taking. A group in Kosovo split away giving birth to the National Movement for the Liberation of Kosovo (Lëvizja Kombëtare për Çlirimin e Kosovës or LKÇK). The LKÇK, in contrast to the LPRK, did not recognize the self-declared Republic. After all, support for Kosovo‘s independence implied a tacit endorsement of LDK‘s policies and thus a step away from the goal of unifying Albanian lands (Lipsius 1998: 81). Moreover, the LKÇK‘s view on how the struggle was to be waged differed from the LPRK/LPK. Its activists were skeptic about the émigrés from Switzerland. Both agreed that LDK policies were jeopardizing the goal of a Greater Albania but the LKÇK‘s ideology and strategy was still strongly influenced by radical leftist ideas. They wanted to engage the Albanian populations in their

Montengro and Albania. Clark (2000: 64) cites an official number of 136 attacks in the 18 months after independence. Presumably, these numbers are exaggerated. Most of these attacks were pot-shots anyway. There are indications that this first attempt to serious military training was launched in cooperation with Bujar Bukoshi, who represented the LDK government in exile. The men were trained mainly at a camp in Labinot, near Elbasan, by Albanian army officers with the blessing of the Albanian President at that time, Ramiz Alia, who had succeeded the deceased Enver Hoxha. 457

It has been said that a ―four-man group‖ was dispatched to Kosovo. Kubo‘s informant named Ali Ahmeti, Xhavit Haliti, Sabri Kicmari and Emrush Xhemaili (2010: fn. 10). Judah identifies the four as Kadri Veseli, Hashim Thaci, Xhavit Haliti and Ali Ahmeti (2002: 115–16). Haradinaj‘s recollection of the events mention Ali Ahmeti and Emrush Xhemajli as belonging to that group (Hamzaj 2000: 22). Mulaj names Kadri Veseli, Hashim Thaci, Xhavit Haliti, and Ali Ahmeti (2008: 1108). Others again would add Azem Syla to the group. If anything than this confusing record is testimony to the secretive nature of the activities going on in the early 1990s. 458

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struggle and sought it necessary to create the conditions for a popular uprising first.459 The LPRK organizer thought differently.460 The decision to brand the armed movement ―Kosovo Liberation Army‖ was taken in December 1993. In an interview one of the KLA militants of the first hour, Rexhep Selimi, would later explain the rationale for choosing that particular name: First, we Kosovo Albanians never had an army of our own where we could enroll and train to fight Serb occupiers. Although we knew then, that we had limited capacity for a proper army, we used the term to reflect our aim of having one in the near future. Second, the term ‗liberation‘ reflected our mission of liberating Kosovo from Serbian occupation. We needed our own army. We could not rely on the army of Albania. In addition, we thought that by using the term ‗Kosovo Liberation Army‘ and working to establish it, we would raise the awareness of Kosovars and boost their morale (quoted in Mulaj 2008: 1109). However, four years later, in 1997, there were still many who believed no such organization existed. The KLA‘s first attacks had been denounced by Rugova as the deeds of agents provocateurs and he kept denying the existence of an armed Albanian movement (Judah 2002: 115, 127). The LPK‘s organizational weakness, its rivalry with LDK, and fear of Yugoslav intelligence and police made the LPK-KLA networks evolve in secrecy. When it finally came out in the open it was obvious to everyone closely observing Kosovo-Albanian politics that the KLA was the armed wing of the LPK although the latter denied any links with this obscure group.461 It seems that the LPK leadership in exile thought it necessary to present the KLA as a separate organization that had no ideological commitments other than the liberation of Kosovo. This was supposed to make the armed movement as inclusive as possible.462

Although rooted in Kosovo former LKÇK members claim to have had cells in the Albanian parts of Macedonia as well. In 1997, on the eve of the escalation of violence, it claims to have had about 300 members in Kosovo alone. 459

Mulaj (2008: 1108) argues that the conflict was essentially an ideological one about the place Marxism should take. This, of course, is denied today by former LKÇK members and they emphasize disagreements on strategy (see also Judah 2002: 115-6) 460

In 1998, a news agency report stated: ―For the time being, it is known that the UÇK is closest to the National Movement of Kosovo which is operating in secrecy ever since its foundation in 1982. From public appearances of its leaders, one gets the impression that the National Movement of Kosovo is actually the political faction of the UÇK. However, they are refusing to say anything about it in public‖ (Rexhepi 1998). Perritt argues that the motivation for pretending that the KLA had nothing to do with the LPK was strategic in nature: ―The early identification of the LPRK with Hoxha and Marxism-Leninism limited popular support for the militants among Kosovar Albanians, especially after 1989‖ (Perritt 2008: 29). 461

According to Sullivan, the LPRK/LPK was ―full of men who had once idealized Hoxha and had not yet shed their communist sympathies‖ (2004: 110). The clenched fist salute of the KLA was one of the last vestiges of communism but was later abandoned (Gashi 2010: 140). 462

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The LPRK/LPK organizers found it difficult to recruit fighters in Kosovo and faced enormous problems to coordinate and control those few already operating. The carnage in Croatia made Kosovo Albanians hesitate. ―Fearful that a guerilla campaign against Serb troops would result in a brutal and bloody crackdown … [they] ignored the LPRK‘s call to arms and rallied behind Rugova in even greater numbers‖ (Sullivan 2004: 72-3). It would remain much the same in the years to come. There was no support for a guerrilla struggle in Kosovo (Sullivan 2004: 102). 463 Fear of an escalation and the influence of the LDK prevented many Albanians from joining the KLA (Kubo 2010: 1145). In 1997, by some accounts, the KLA had no more than 150 active members (Judah 2002: 118). Rebellious families like the Jasharis and the Haradinajs, who stood in the kaçak tradition, were reluctant to let themselves be co-opted by the émigrés. In fact, the KLA, for most of its existence, remained a small and marginal group, without a permanent base. It was, write Pettifer and Vickers, ―a rural and village uprising‖ (2009: 114).464 The KLA strongholds were the Drenica region with its long tradition of resistance against externally imposed rule and Dukagjini, a region bordering Montenegro and Albania. There, nationalist-minded families joined in and mobilized restive village communities who rejected the Serb authorities for reasons often unrelated to the nationalist struggle.465 The resistance consisted of a loose network and its activity remained concentrated on these areas. When the KLA became eventually famous in 1998 organizational problems did not disappear (Kola 2003: 333, 337). Although there were now more and more young Albanians ready to volunteer and join the fight, an effective coordination of the mobilization was lacking. Once the KLA had become popular, people began operating under its label, often without having any links to the LPK organizers. The creation of a general staff did not solve the problem (Kola 2003: 336-7). The KLA remained a rather fragmented network of gun-toting militants and only late in the war would it acquire a more coherent structure. The KLA‘s activity in the 1990s until the NATO intervention in 1999 can be divided in two periods: one running from 1993 to 1996 and the second from 1996 to 1998 (Perritt 2008: 8). Following the unsuccessful attempt to Others told interviewers afterwards that even ―during the war they had put their weapons away because they wanted to avoid provoking the police and endangering their families‖ (Di Lellio and Schwandner-Sievers 2006: 523). 463

In fact, the KLA was never active in Prishtina until it entered the capital on the heels of the NATO forces in June 1999. It was, write Pettifer and Vickers, ―a rural and village uprising‖ (2009: 114). The majority of KLA fighters were late to join the organization and, as far as we know, its structure remained fragmented and frail with personal rivalries. For details, see Haradinaj‘s recollections with regard to the KLA‘s inner workings in Hamzaj (2000). 464

Haradinaj recalls how his KLA faction established itself in Dukagjini: ―The military equipment in Jabllanica was secured by the villagers on their own initiative, especially after a conflict that the village had with the police early on, the population itself started gathering guns… this seemed to us to represent an awakening of the population so we tried to benefit from the situation and engage the population directly‖ (Hamzaj 2000: 27). 465

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train and re-infiltrate militants in 1990/91, the LPK focused on the organizational tasks like recruitment, fund raising, and logistics. It was essentially invisible to the public. However, as Perritt claims, based on interviews with former fighters, the KLA was successful in checking infiltration by eliminating or intimidating spies of the Serb intelligence (2008: 8). Again, military trainings were organized in Albania and abroad (Judah 2002: 118). The second period saw the KLA structures developing on the ground, albeit with difficulties. After the Dayton Accords of 1995 and in the wake of Albania‘s collapse in 1997, the pace of attacks on police stations and against collaborators increased. Until the fall of 1997, however, ―no one had much of an idea who was carrying them out‖ (Judah 2002: 119). Few were those expecting a war. The KLA‘s sudden popularity and its eventual political success, as I am going to argue, were caused by an overreaction of the Serbian security forces. In early 1998, a series of heavy handed police actions backfired as they helped the KLA to gain legitimacy among Kosovo‘s Albanians. The brutal counterinsurgency campaign that was to follow only stirred more resistance. ―Instead of squelching the insurgency, the attack galvanized Kosovo and horrified the rest of the world‖ (Perritt 2008: 9). Volunteers poured in and the KLA expanded its political and military activity.

2) KLA’S IDEOLOGY & GREATER ALBANIA The ideological roots of the KLA were a mix of Albanian nationalism, doctrinaire Marxism-Leninism and admiration for Enver Hoxha‘s Albania. Owing to the political climate of the early 1990s the LPK-KLA broke with its leftist past and appeared to focus exclusively on the liberation of Kosovo. It sought to play down any ideological commitment. Jakup Krasniqi, the KLA‘s spokesman, is reported to have asserted in a newspaper interview: ―I do not think we have an ideology. And in fact, we do not have time for such things even if we are interested in them, because we have our main job to do, which is the task of liberation.‖ (Koha Ditore of 12 July 1998, quoted in Mulaj 2008: fn 30). This gave KLA a greater flexibility once substantive issues pertaining to Kosovo‘s future had to be negotiated after 1999. The point on which it would be more difficult to show flexibility was the goal of Greater Albania. In July 1998, Krasniqi gave an interview to the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel which raised eyebrows in European capitals. He confidently declared: ―Wir wollen mehr als die Unabhängigkeit. Unser Ziel ist die Vereinigung aller Albaner auf dem Balkan‖ (Spiegel 1998: 123).466 Although the KLA later retracted its maximalist position it

―What we want is more than independence. Ours is the goal of the unification of all Albanians in the Balkans‖ (my translation). 466

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remained beholden to the idea of a single Albanian nation. As Krasniqi argued, since it was they who sacrificed for the people, it was their right to decide their fate.467 The KLA communiqués give a good impression of its self-justifying rhetoric. The KLA called its emergence ―an historic necessity‖ which responded to ―a vital need of the Albanian people of Kosova, when all those who sought freedom by pacifist methods had failed‖ (Communiqué No.78 of May 1999, in Elshani 2000).468 It stressed that it had introduced itself not by futile talk but ―by turning the barrel of a gun against the invader and traitors,‖ asserting that its demand for decisive action had been heard (Communiqué No.40 of December 1997). Social revolution, the KLA maintained, was not its goal and it had no sympathies whatsoever for the government of President Rugova. The latter was accused of treason for he effectively assisted Milosevic in maintaining control over Kosovo (Communiqué No.78). Rugova‘s pacifism had been replaced by a ―more extreme vital activity for gaining freedom and independence‖ (Communiqué No.78). In sum the message was clear: armed struggle was inevitable since freedom would not be won by diplomacy as Rugova erroneously seemed to believe. The KLA would remain consistent in its rejection of any political ideology save for nationalism. The territorial scope of its nationalism, however, was eventually scaled down. A statement made before the escalation of violence in 1998 had implored Rugova and the LDK to realize ―that Kosovo and the other Albanian territories will not be liberated down the telephone or from an office, but only by a serious commitment in support of the armed struggle‖ (Communiqué No.40 of 3 December 1997, my emphasis). The KLA‘s early declarations made a distinction between two operational zones, one being Kosovo the other western Macedonia.469 The announced goal of liberating ―Kosovo and the other Albanian territories‖ was soon to be replaced by statements saying that the KLA was fighting ―with weapons in hand for the independence of Kosova‖ (Communiqué No.78). Already in February 1996 another communiqué had stated: We let the occupiers from Belgrade know that our actions up until now are just first warnings … Dialogue about withdrawing the military and police from the Republic of Kosova should start immediately. We call on powerful international centres such as the USA to recognise the independence of Kosova for which the Albanians have declared themselves in a referendum… (Communiqué No. 13, quoted in Judah 2002: 131).

Said Krasniqi: ―Wer mit seinem Blut das Land verteidigt, darf über dessen Schicksal bestimmen‖ [―He, who defends his country with his blood, has the right to decide its fate‖ (my translation)] (Spiegel 1998: 122). 467

468

Subsequent quotes from KLA communiqués are all based on Elshani (2000), if not indicated otherwise.

In January 1998, KLA‘s Communiqué No.41 announced that armed operations had begun in ―Operational Zone No.2,‖ with attacks on a courthouse and several police stations in western Macedonia (Chiclet 1998/99: 138). 469

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How serious was the specter of a Greater Albania repeatedly raised by the KLA‘s detractors and the Serb government in particular?470 The oath all KLA fighters had to take seems to confirm the allegations that the KLA sought to establish a Greater Albania. It included the pledge that ―as a member of the Kosovo Liberation Army, I shall fight for the liberation of all occupied Albanian territory and their unification …‖

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The reference to all occupied Albanian

territory and the goal of their unification was a clear indication of the KLA‘s pan-Albanian orientation – as was the double-headed eagle in its emblem. To the nationalist militants of the KLA the artificial nature of the Yugoslav-era borders was obvious. Across the borders with Serbia, Macedonia, Montenegro, and of course Albania, people were speaking the same language and referring to themselves as Albanians. These were the Albanian lands that the late nineteenth century nationalists had already sought to unite. The area claimed in the name of national self-determination, the so-called Shqipëria natyrale – natural Albania, was defined by the ethnolingustic resemblance of the majority of its inhabitants. It was assumed that those beyond Albania‘s borders were waiting to be liberated. Kosovo as an administrative unit within rump Yugoslavia and the place where Serb oppression was most heavily felt was the place where the struggle should begin.472 The notion of ―liberating Kosovo‖ thus remained an open concept. Yet the KLA‘s irredentism was not dogmatic. The political and social – though not emotional – distance from Albania proper had taken its toll. The debates of the early 1980s on the territorial scope of Albanian nationalism made their reappearance in the late 1990s. In August 1998, amid a devastating Serb offensive, Adem Demaci met the KLA leadership in Tirana. The Albanian nationalist-cum-human rights activist of worldwide renown agreed to lead the political arm of the KLA. The deal included that Demaci was going to renounce his vision of a Balkan federation whereas the KLA pledged to drop the goal of Greater Albania and focus on the liberation of Kosovo. According to Gashi, they ―agreed to work for Kosova as an independent and sovereign state, in accordance with the will of the people of Kosova, as expressed in the 1991 referendum‖ (2010: 144). Although there‘s no doubt that this move had a pragmatic as well as strategic dimension, it also reflected a Kosovar polity for which Rugova‘s

470

For an overview, see Dérens (2008).

In Albanian this part of the oath reads: ―betohem se do të luftoj për çlirimin e te luftoj per clirimin e tokave shqiptare dhe bashkimin e tyre…‖ On the martyrs‘ cemetery on a hilltop above downtown Prishtina one finds an elaborate tomb stone of a KLA fighter showing the oath against the background of a map of Greater Albania. 471

The LKÇK leadership, by contrast, thought that the struggle should begin in western Macedonia since there the conditions for a popular uprising were better. 472

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Republic and the struggle to gain recognition for its independence was real whereas Greater Albania remained a dream. In practice, however, the specter of Greater Albania continued to haunt regional politics. In the 1990s Albanian armed groups were reported to operate in the Preshevo Valley, an Albanian majority region in southern Serbia – often referred to as Eastern Kosovo by Albanian nationalists – , and in western Macedonia. The Albanian networks that spawn the borders of Kosovo and the Preshevo Valley, on the one hand, and western Macedonia, on the other, allowed the armed struggle to spread. It looked as if an Albanian irredenta was emerging. But although the developments were in line with the ―Greater Albania‖ aspirations of the KLA, a closer look reveals a more complex picture (Bellamy 2002). The escalation of violence in Macedonia, in particular, was less the work of the KLA than a function of Macedonia‘s domestic political travails. Interethnic relations between Macedonian Slavs and Albanians had not been easy in the 1990s. However, the situation had remained calm. In the wake of the war in Kosovo the security situation along the border got worse when armed Albanians groups showed up. Occasional skirmishes with Macedonian security forces culminated in the outbreak of armed fighting in the spring of 2001. On the Albanian side, the major armed group was the National Liberation Army (NLA, Ushtria Çlirimtare Kombëtare or UÇK in Albanian). Having initially adopted the KLA‘s ―Greater Albania‖ rhetoric and wearing UÇK badges, the NLA looked very much like a KLA franchise – but it was not. 473 The struggle in Macedonia would eventually take place in relative isolation from what was going on in Kosovo. In January 2001, when the NLA came out into the open after an attack on a police station near Tetovo/Tetova which left a police officer dead, ―its communiqué outlined political demands to the Macedonian authorities that were exactly the same as those advanced by Macedonian Albanian political parties over the decade since Macedonia‘s independence in 1991‖ (Kola 2003: 377). The problem was that Macedonian-Albanian politicians had not delivered on their promises to improve the lot of their people. The NLA stressed that it was in favor of preserving Macedonia‘s sovereignty but wanted a constitutional reform and a bi-national state. Macedonia should not be the state of (Slav) Macedonians alone but of Albanians and Macedonians.474 After all, the NLA‘s

In fact, the problem was that the National Liberation Army (NLA) operating in Macedonia had the same acronym as the KLA – and it is likely that this was intentional. Its Albanian name was Ushtria Çlirimtare Kombëtare or UÇK and thus sported a similar emblem with the same acronym as the Kosovo Liberation Army, the Ushtria Çlirimtare e Kosovës. 473

The communiqué, entitled Communiqué No.4, was addressed to the German broadcaster Deutsche Welle and claimed NLA responsibility for the attack. ―So far we, the Albanians in Macedonia, have sought our rights through dialogue in a constitutional and peaceful way,‖ it began. The communiqué then outlined the group‘s ultimate goal, stating that the NLA ―… will fight until Macedonia constitutionally becomes a Macedonian-Albanian – or Albanian Macedonian – 474

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leadership was Macedonian Albanian and so were their concerns (Kola 2003: 378).475 Indeed, it seems that the majority of Macedonia‘s Albanians identified themselves as citizens of the Macedonian state. And although the coexistence with Macedonia‘s Slav population was difficult, they continued to do so after the war (ICG 2004: 18).476 The escalation of 2001 was driven by inner—Macedonian Albanian political struggles rather than irredentism. It was less part of a grand strategy devised by the KLA than a skillful emulation of its approach. Having witnessed how violence paid off in Kosovo the NLA tried to do the same. They sensed that in order to improve the status of ethnic Albanians in Macedonia, who constitute about a third of its population, ―using force in particular ways that did not alienate the West could speed up domestic political processes‖ (Bellamy 2002: 132). And it worked. Before things could spin out of control, the European Union and NATO intervened. A Western-backed peace agreement between the Macedonian government and ethnic Albanian representatives – the Ohrid Framework Agreement – was negotiated. It threw the foundations for a power-sharing regime and thus provided for a solution within the constitutional framework of the Macedonian state. As to the KLA, there is no doubt that it had stakes in western Macedonia. The region was a conduit for weapons and a place where the KLA had recruited fighters. In the mid-1990s it had sought to establish itself as a political player there. By 1999, however, its focus had shifted back to Kosovo. The NATO-backed victory over Belgrade opened a political playing field which required all its attention. Now, the new masters in Prishtina feared a deterioration in their relationship with NATO should they condone the violence in Macedonia or in the Preshevo Valley. In the Preshevo Valley the armed men of the Liberation Army of Preshevo, Medvedja and Bujanovac (Ushtria Çlirimtare e Preshevës, Medvegjës dhe Bujanocit or UÇPMB) had been first to imitate the KLA‘s strategy of provocation. Yet, lacking external support, they soon vanished. In Macedonia, by contrast, the conflict developed its own dynamics, as shown above.477

state,‖ before concluding, ―We are in favour of preserving Macedonia‘s sovereignty and territorial integrity‖ (quoted in Rusi 2004: 2). There was, however, a certain degree of overlap in the personnel between KLA and NLA. On an individual level support was offered. For instance, the NLA‘s political leader and spokesmen, Ali Ahmeti, was a long-time activist and one of the central figures in the establishment of the KLA (Ash 1999). Among other things, he cooperated with Haradinaj to funnel weapons to villagers in the Dukagjini (Hamzaj 2000: 28). However, as Kola points out, ―Some may indeed been former KLA members… But most were Macedonian Albanians‖ (2003: 378). 475

Until the Macedonian security forces resorted to indiscriminate attacks in reaction to the increased presence of the NLA, Albanian political leaders urged reforms and condemned the use of force which did not enjoy popular support anyway (Kola 2003: 378; Bellamy 2002: 122). 476

The UÇPMB claimed to defend the Albanian minority in the Preshevo Valley. It had some success in provoking the Serbs, and the repression sent some 15 000 Albanians fleeing across to border into Kosovo (Sullivan 2004: 308). Fearing 477

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In sum, although the conflict in Macedonia was influenced by the war in Kosovo, its pan-Albanian dimension was limited. Barany remarks that the NLA‘s political leader Ali Ahmeti ―repeatedly insisted that the NLA was interested neither in Greater Albania nor in a Greater Kosovo but in fully equal status for Albanians‖ (2005: 94). Although the idea of a single Albanian nation spanning the region‘s border was still debated, statements like Ahmeti‘s were not mere smokescreens.478 The cultural affinity felt by all Albanophones in the Balkans went hand in hand with distinct political identities which were determined by the states they found themselves in. The dream of Greater Albania turned out to be more of an inspiration than a goal in itself. At the end, regardless of what it said, the KLA appeared to be a Kosovo-Albanian nationalist organization, in the first place.

3) KLA’S MILITARY & POLITICAL STRATEGY In the mid-1990s the KLA‘s struggle seemed doom