The ACRPS academic symposium devoted to transformations from armed to unarmed political activism came to an end in Doha today, 4 November 2018.
The day’s events began with a panel on Africa, chaired by Na’eem Jeenah. The first intervention looked at South Africa, with Thula Simpson presenting “Armed Propaganda and People’s War: The African National Congress’s Path to Power, 1984-1994”. He focused on the critical phase of the liberation struggle in South Africa, beginning in September 1984, to overthrow the Apartheid regime. Simpson reviewed the mass political mobilization methods adopted by the ANC, which led to their eventual electoral victory, as well as the various obstacles and ruptures they overcame. He was followed by Mehari Taddele Maru who presented his paper “Transition in Ethiopia: from armed struggle to coalition Politics Forward-looking, New Thinking and Strategic Foresight”. He explored the Ethiopian armed organizations and their transition to a ruling political coalition.
The second panel was dedicated to personal testimonies of three former political leaders who took part in the transition from armed action in the Arab world, under the moderation of Abdelwahab El-Affendi. Osama Rushdi gave his testimony on “The Islamic Group in Egypt: From Armed Confrontation to Peaceful Political Action.” Anes al-Sharif, a former member of Libyan Islamic Fighting Group spoke about “The Transformations of the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group.” Finally, Abdullah Anas, a former Arab-Afghan commander spoke about “Algeria: The Transformation of the Islamic Salvation Army and Allied Groups in Algeria”.
The third and final session of the day was a discussion panel which offered some concluding conversations. Chaired by Shafeeq Ghabra, the lively discussion was set off with a presentation by Ronnie Kasrils on “The armed wing of the African National Congress and the Transition towards Peaceful Constitutional Political Activism”. Kasrils was one of the founders of the military wing of the African National Congress (ANC) established in 1961 and its subsequent intelligence chief and spoke about his experience as a former intelligence minister in South Africa and the challenges faced by the armed wing of the ANC in the transition to peaceful political activity.
He was followed by Abdelhakim Belhaj who spoke about his experience “From the “Fighting Group” to the “Homeland Party”: Observations on the Transformations in Libya”. Finally, Main Al-Taher looked at “The Palestinian Condition: between the Confusion of Rifles and the Faltering of Peace” Al-Taher is a former member of the Fatah Revolutionary Council, and the Higher Command of the Palestinian Revolution. He was a founding member of the Student Battalion, involved in combat in South Lebanon during the Lebanese Civil War. His talk examined the experiences of the Palestinian armed struggle since the mid-1960s, when the gradual shift from armed action to exploring the prospects for engaging in a political settlement began. This led to the signing of the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self Government Arrangements (OSLO I), followed up with the second Oslo accords after Mahmoud Abbas became president of the Palestinian Authority in 2005.