Fascism in the Middle East – history

Fascism in the Middle East (1930-40)

Contents

Fascism in the Middle East

Mussolini’s fascism impressed many in Turkey, there were many similarities between the Italian fascist regime and the Kemalists, including racist rhetoric and authoritarianism [1]

Reza Shah Pahlavi, interwar ruler of Iran, sometimes referred to as ‘the Mussolini of Islam’. resident Germans worked actively for National Socialist propaganda, and by May 1940 there were about 4000 Nazi agents across the country. [2]

“The whole Arab youth is enthused by Adolf Hitler,” wrote Kamil Muruwwa, the young editor of the Beirut paper An-Nida’, to the German Foreign Minister in Berlin. The year after Hitler came to power, Muruwwa translated Mein Kampf from English into Arabic and published it in daily installments in An-Nida’. [3]

The radical Arab nationalist groups of the 1930s and after were influenced by European fascism. From an early date Mussolini chose to present himself as a promoter of Arab nationalism, above all as a tool for the expansion of Italian influence. The Fascist regime had him proclaimed a “hero of Islam” and “defender of Islam” in Italian Libya. where a parallel Libyan Arab Fascist party was created. [4] [5] From Newsweek of October 7, 1940, he made a trip to Libya and there proclaimed himself the “Defender of Islam,” Leaflets were distributed, which reminded Arabs that Mussolini was there “defender” [6]. In Egypt the Italians have adopted much of the same line, and last week they also continued efforts to woo King Farouk with promises that if he threw in his lot with the totalitarian powers he might become the head of a greater Arab state. [7].

At least four other Arab countries had developed fascist-type movements by 1939: Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. among the pre WW2 Arab-Nazi organizations were: the Iron Shirts (led by Fakhri al-Barudi of the National Bloc, still a member of the Syrian parliament in 1946); the League for National Action (headed by Abdu al-Huda al-Yab, Dr. Zaki al-Jabi and others); the An-Nadi al-Arabi Club of Damascus (headed by Dr. Said Abd Al-Fattah al-Imam); the Councils for the Defense of Arab Palestine (head by well known pro-Nazi leaders, such as Nabi al-Azmah, Adil Arslan and others); the Syrian People’s Party SSNP. [8]

In the case of Palestine, it is by now generally acknowledged that the Arab riots of 1936-1939 were stimulated and subsidised by Nazi and Fascist sources [9], so popular among the Palestinian Arabs during the riots of 1936, may be traced to Italian propaganda. [10].

The three groups most directly influenced by European fascism were the Iraqi Futuwwa, the Young Egypt Association (green shirts) [11] and the Syrian People’s Party (Syrian Nationalist Socialist Party, SSNP, modeled on Hitler’s Nazi Party, its symbol, a curved swastika on its flag, called the Zawbah, [12], it’s founder Sa’ada was known as al-za’in (the Führer) and the party anthem was “Syria, Syria, über alles” sung to the same tune as German, [13]), they were territorially expansionist, with Saib Shawkat, the Futuwwa ideologue, envisioning the “Arab nation” as eventually covering half the globe (by conversion).[14][15][16]

The leading advocate of a rapprochement with fascism was Rashid Ali al-Gaylani (1892-1965), who after 1924 was several times justice and interior minister of Iraq and who had emerged as leader of the pan-Arab nationalists in 1930.[17]

The mufti al-Husayni (who met with Hitler [18] and shared with Mussolini a devotion to fascism as well as passionate hatred for both the British and the Jews [19]) inspired the development of pro-Nazi parties throughout the Arab world including Young Egypt, led by Gamal Abdul Nasser, and the Social Nationalist Party of Syria (SSNP) led by Anton Sa’ada. [20]

Despite Arabs showing support for fascism, the Nazis were clear in their minds that the Arabs were racially inferior, and there would, therefore, be no pleasure to be had from helping them in anything except for the extermination of Jews in their region. [21], most Arabs never realized that the Nazis would consider them racially inferior as well. [22] Although he loathed Arabs, he once described them as “lacquered half-apes who ought to be whipped” [23] [24], Hitler understood that he and the Mufti (al-Husayni) shared the same rivals – the British, the Jews and the Communists.[25] Mussolini’s PNF passed racial legislations against Arabs as well (along, Jews & Africans). [26]

Al-Muthanna & al-Futuwwa

The al-Muthanna Club and its al-Futuwwa movement, were part of Pan-Arabists’ proto-fascist organizations developed during the 1930s. [27]

Both, the al-Muthanna Club & its al-Futuwwa youth wing came about the same time, as Iraqi pan-Arab government supported forum for pan-Arab activists, consisting of both young officers and leading educators, in early 1935. The reformation conducted by the Ministry of Education in October 1935, together with the army’s establishment of the Al-Futuwa youth movement in 1931, combined to create a full fledged paramilitary organization under the command of the Ministry’s general director, Dr. Saib Shawkat, which imitated, modeled after the Hitler Jugend. [28] [29][30] [31]. The pan-Arab government sponsored the Futuwwa Youth movement [32].

The fascist Pan-Arab al-Muthanna club[33][34] delivered speeches supporting Nazism[35], and with its (officially modeled Hitler Youth [36] [37]) al-Futuwwa, have participated in the 1941 Farhud attack on Baghdad’s Jewish community.[38][39] [40] [41], following agitation [42] by Dr. Saib Shawkat (Sāmī Shawkat), a high official in the Ministry of Education in the pre-war years and for a while its director general who was the head of “al-Futuwwa.” In one of his addresses, “The Profession of Death,” he called on Iraqi youth to adopt the way of life of Nazi Fascists. In another speech he branded the Jews as the enemy from within, who should be treated accordingly. In another, he praised Hitler and Mussolini for eradicating their internal enemies (the Jews). Syrian and Arab Palestinian teachers often supported Shawkat in his preaching (he had cooperation with the Mufti (Al-Husayni)[43]). [44].

Besides espousing a fanatic Pan-Arabism, the Futuwwa adopted a frankly totalitarian ideology [45]

Nationalist rhetoric accompanied major efforts to build fascist-style youth organizations by recruiting young men to serve as the strike force of the nationalist movement. Throughout the 1930s the children of wealthy Palestinians returned home from European universities having witnessed the emergence of fascist paramilitary forces. Palestinian students educated in Germany returned to Palestine determined to found the Arab Nazi Party. The Husseinis used the Palestinian Arab Party to establish the al-Futuwwa youth corps, which was named after an association of Arab Nazi Scouts. By 1936 the Palestinian Arab Party was sponsoring the developments of storm troops patterned on the German model. These storm troops, all children and youth, were to be outfitted in black trousers and red shirts… The young recruits took the following oath: “Life — my right; independence — my aspiration; Arabism — my country, and there is no room in it for any but Arabs. In this I believe and Allah is my witness.” .. The al-Futuwwa youth groups connected Palestinian youth to fascist youth movements elsewhere in the Middle East. While the Mufti was establishing youth groups in Palestine, al-Futuwwa groups were established in Iraq. [46]

Najjada & Phalanges

In 1936 and 1937, Beirut and other Lebanese cities witnessed the emergence of paramilitary youth organizations with clear fascist tendencies, the Lebanese Phalanges and the al-Najjada (Najjada). These movements were of a religious bent and became entangled in sectarian and political rivalries, The Lebanese Phalanges also staunchly supported Lebanon’s independence and borders. The group’s first political activity took place on 21 November 1936 to counter Muslim demonstrations in Beirut. The Najjada was an Arab Muslim organization which stood for Arab unity, the independence of the Arab world from foreign rule, and an Arab Lebanon. It was formed at the end of 1936 from a Muslim scout organization established by Nasuli, to protect Muslim Beirut and counter Christian paramilitary organizations. Its members marched through the streets of the Muslims quarters hoisting the Syrian flag and banners with slogans calling for Arab unity, and to held demonstrations in support of the Muslim struggle in Palestine. [47]

Nasuli, leader of the Muslim scouting movement and newspaper publisher, since at least 1933 newspapers had been printing Hitler’s speeches and excerpts from “Mein Kampf.” Hitler and Mussolini were viewed in both Syria and Lebanon as models of strong statebuilders, Nasuli adopted the motto Arabism Above All on his newspaper’s masthead, which also printed glowing accounts of German youth’s support of Hitler. [48]

The Lebanese Najjada presented itself as the Muslim equivalent of the Phalange [49], The Sunni organization appeared soon after to counter Christian solidarity with Muslim solidarity [50] A Muslim ‘twin’ to the Phalangists, the organization was often described, the rivals often clashed. [51]

The Phalange which began as an (Arab) Christian youth organization modeled after those of Mussolini’s Italy and other fascist organizations, although they adopted a fascist salute and the flag-waving paraphernalia of fascism, the early Phalangists were less fascists than glorified Boy Scouts. [52] According to Pryce-Jones, the Phalange was not a generically fascist movement, after all.[53]

Baathism

The Pan-Arab Ba’ath Party movement is believed to be influenced by European fascism (asides from socialism) [54][55][56] and is widely considered to be fascist.[57][58][59]

Although Saddam Hussein never acknowledged the training of a youth brigade, he has, in several past speeches, spoken admiringly of the Hitler Youth. It is widely believed that he belonged to the Futuwa, a paramilitary youth organisation which was modelled on the Hitler Youth and was formed in Baghdad in the late 1950s. [60]

From History channel’s ‘”Saddam and the Third Reich”‘

Few people realize that the Ba’ath party was actually formed upon the principles and organizational structure of the Nazi party. Iraq, because of its oil and hatred of Jews, was an important battleground between the Axis and Allied powers in World War II. Nazi propaganda was broadcast throughout Baghdad, and Iraqis often went on rampages against Jews throughout the war. One of the most ardent Nazi supporters during WWII was named Khairallah Talfah. Talfah (Tulfah) was Saddam’s uncle. After the war, many of the key Iraqi Nazi supporters, all of whom evaded prosecution, wound up involved in Saddam’s rise to power. This special examines the key individuals of the Iraqi-Nazi connection, the little-known battle for Iraq in WWII, and the strange link to Saddam Hussein.

[61] [62]

Author Fred Halliday writes about 1958-1979: Arab Nationalism confronting Imperial Iran, Ba’thist ideology, where, under the influence of al-Husri, Iran was presented as the age-old enemy of the Arabs. Al-Husri’s impact on the Iraqi education system was made during the period of the monarchy, but it was the Ba’athists, trained in that period and destined to take power later, who brought his ideas to their full, official and racist, culmination. For the Ba’athists their pan-Arab ideology was laced with anti-Persian racism, it rested on the pursuit of anti-Persian themes, over the decade and a half after coming to power, Baghdad organised the expulsion of Iraqis of Persian origin, beginning with 40,000 Fayli Kurds, but totalling up to 200,000 or more, by the early years of the war itself. Such racist policies were reinforced by ideology: in 1981, a year after the start of the Iran-Iraq war, Dar al-Hurriya, the government publishing house, issued “Three_Whom_God_Should_Not_Have_Created.” by the author, Khairallah Talfah (Tulfah), the foster-father and father-in-law of Saddam Hussein. Halliday says that it was the Ba’thists too who, claiming to be the defenders of ‘Arabism’ on the eastern frontiers, brought to the fore the chauvinist myth of Persian migrants and communities in the Gulf. [63]

  1.  Turkey: a modern history By Erik Jan Zürcher, p. 186
  2. ^ World fascism: a historical encyclopedia, Cyprian Blamires, Paul Jackson – 2006, p. 342 [2]
  3. ^ http://www.jcpa.org/JCPA/Templates/ShowPage.asp?DRIT=5&DBID=1&LNGID=1&TMID=111&FID=625&PID=0&IID=3235&TTL=Wolfgang_G._Schwanitz_on_Nazism_in_Syria_and_Lebanon._The_Ambivalence_of_the_German_Option,_1933-1945
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  9. ^ http://books.google.com/books?ei=m73eS4rvHMySuAff2b34Bg&ct=result&id=GXDiAAAAMAAJ&dq=fascist
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  61. ^ http://shop.history.com/detail.php?a=74647
  62. ^ http://www.militaryhistorycollection.com/Saddam-And-The-Third-Reich
  63. ^ Nation and religion in the Middle East‎, Fred Halliday, pp 117-118, [17]

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One Response to “Fascism in the Middle East – history”

  1. About Ba’athists and Syria « Musings from the Chiefio Says:

    […] https://freedemocracy.wordpress.com/2010/05/11/fascism-in-the-middle-east-history/ The radical Arab nationalist groups of the 1930s and after were influenced by European fascism. From an early date Mussolini chose to present himself as a promoter of Arab nationalism, above all as a tool for the expansion of Italian influence. The Fascist regime had him proclaimed a “hero of Islam” and “defender of Islam” in Italian Libya. where a parallel Libyan Arab Fascist party was created. From Newsweek of October 7, 1940, he made a trip to Libya and there proclaimed himself the “Defender of Islam,” Leaflets were distributed, which reminded Arabs that Mussolini was there “defender” [6]. In Egypt the Italians have adopted much of the same line, and last week they also continued efforts to woo King Farouk with promises that if he threw in his lot with the totalitarian powers he might become the head of a greater Arab state. […]

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