Arab Socialist Union
The Arab Socialist Union ( _ar. الاتّحاد الاشتراكى العربى, unicode|"al-Ittiḥād al-Ištirākī 'l-ʿArabī"; French: "L'Union Socialiste Arabe") is one of a number of loosely related political parties based on the principles of Nasserist
Arab socialismin a number of countries.citebook|title=Egypt's Incomplete Revolution: Lutfi Al-Khuli and Nasser's Socialism in the 1960s |author= Rami Ginat|year=1997|publisher=Routledge|id=ISBN 0714647381|url= http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN0714647381&id=DxcYqfTl-B4C&pg=RA1-PA149&lpg=RA1-PA149&ots=Wx24X6_puK&dq=%22Arab+Socialist+Union%22&ie=ISO-8859-1&output=html&sig=fzehdb0UeHf_Nf2YCSPz0LRS0Q0]
The Arab Socialist Union was founded in
Egyptin December 1962by Gamal Abdel Nasseras the country's sole political party. The ASU grew out of his Free Officers Movement. The party's formation was just one part in Nasser's National Charter. The Charter set out an agenda of nationalisation, agrarian reformand constitutional reform, which formed the basis of ASU policy. The programme of nationalisation under Nasser saw seven billion Egyptian pounds of private assets transferred into the public sector. Banks, insurance companies, many large shipping companies, major heavy industries and major basic industries were converted to public control. Land reforms saw the maximum area of private land ownership successively reduced from 200 to 100 feddans. A 90% top rate of income taxwas levied on income over ten thousand Egyptian pounds. Boards of directors were required to have a minimum number of workers, and workers and peasants were guaranteed at least half of the seats in the People's Assembly. The Charter also saw a shift in emphasis away from Egyptian nationalism towards Arab unity.
After Nasser's death in
1970, Anwar Sadatquickly moved away from his radical socialist position. The first seat change occurred in 1974, with Sadat's "Infitah", or "Open Door", economic policy, which allowed the emergence of a modern entrepreneurial and consumerist society. Then, in 1976, the beginning of political pluralism allowed three political "platforms" — left, centre and right — to form within the Arab Socialist Union. In 1978, the platforms were allowed to become fully independent political parties, and the ASU was disbanded. Many of today's political parties in Egypt have their origin in the breakup of the ASU.
The Arab Socialist Union reflected goals of this stage as the following:
* The state control over the national economy and establishing a public sector to undertake the development process.
* The Arab nationalism.
* The negative solution for classes' struggle.
* Commitment to religion and freedom of faith and worship.
Following the 1967 War and massive demonstrations in February and October
1969, Egyptwas in a state of political turmoil, leading to raising calls for granting citizens more democratic rights and demanding self-expression for political affiliations.
Following assuming office in
1970, late president Anwar Sadatadopted the slogans of rule of law and the institutional state.In August 1974, Sadat put forward a working paper to revamp the Arab Socialist Union.
1975, the Arab Socialist Union's general conference adopted a resolution on establishing political forums within the union for expression of opinion in accordance with basic principles of the Egyptian Revolution.
1976, president Sadat issued a decree allowing three forums to represent the right wing (the Liberal Socialist Organization), the center wing (Egypt Arab Socialist Organization) and the left wing (the National Progressive Unionist Organization).
These forums were later transformed into parties, forming today's Egyptian major political parties.
During the first meeting of the People's Assembly on November 22, 1976, president Sadat declared the three political organizations turned into parties.In June
1977, the law of political party was enacted, allowed the existence of several political parties and demonstrated the shift to a multi-party system. However the ratification of this law had not meant cancellation of the Arab Socialist Union, rather it had given the Union more powers to allow party formation.
Arab socialismin Syriahas its origins in the Arab Socialist Party(ASP; also ASM, for Arab Socialist Movement). This party grew out of Syria's "Hizb al-Shabab" (Youth Party). In 1950, Akram al-Hawranitook over leadership of the party and changed its name to the "Arab Socialist Party". After initial successes, the ASP was banned by Syria's "de facto" leader, Adib ash-Shishakli, in 1952, being considered by him a too powerful political rival. Akram al-Hawrani went into exile in Lebanon, and there agreed on a merger with a nationalist and pan-Arabist opposition party, the Arab Ba'th Party. The new party was called the Ba'ath Arab Socialist Party.
In 1959, the Syrian section of the Ba'th Party dissolved to leave room for the
National Union, which was the only legal party within the United Arab Republic(a Syria-Egypt merger under Gamal Abdel-Nasser's leadership). However, dissent over union grew, and another conference, a year later, reversed the party's decision. When the UAR dissolved in 1961, the the Ba'th Party struggled to reform its Syrian branch, but several groups broke away, including a Nasserist and pro-unionist tendency (which formed the Socialist Unionists, SU) and a strongly anti-Nasserist current under Akram al-Hawrani, who recreated his former ASP.
In 1964, several Syrian Nasserist parties and organizations (including the SUP, the
Movement of Arab Nationalists, the United Arab Frontand the Socialist Union) created a national branch of the Egyptian-led Arab Socialist Union, which -- after a Nasserite coup attempt in the Spring of 1963 -- was in militant opposition to Syria's Ba'th-led government. The organization was led by exiles in Cairo, and remained weakly organized in Syria despite considerable popular support, due to restrictions imposed by the Ba'thists. It quickly fragmented, with a faction of the former SU under Faiz Ismailremoving itself from the ASU. The Movement of Arab Nationalists also continued to work in their separate organizational structures in Syria, despite being formally committed to Nasser's order to unite in the ASU; much of this organization later dissolved into different political groups, including the ASU and the Palestinian PFLPand DFLPfactions.
Hafez al-Assadtook power in 1970, the ASU entered into negotiations about a coalition government, and agreed to join the National Progressive Front (NPF) in 1972. The year after, however, the party split over the adoption of a Syrian constitution in which the Ba'th was proclaimed the "leading party" of the country. One minor faction under Fawzi Kiyaliaccepted the constitution, and retained both the ASU name and the NPF membership, while most members followed party leader Jamal al-Atassiinto opposition, by renaming themselves the Democratic Arab Socialist Union. Both ASU and DASU distanced themselves from Anwar Sadat's government, particularly after his policies towards Israelbecame more conciliatory, and their organizational ties with Cairo were broken before the Egyptian mother party itself dissolved in the mid-1970s.
Today's Syrian ASU (the ex-Kiyali faction), which glorifies the Ba'th presidency and shows virtally no independence from the government, has long been led by
Safwan al-Qudsi. In the 2003 legislativeelections, the NPF bloc was awarded 167 out of 250 seats in the Syrian parliament, and of these seven belonged to the ASU. In the most recent (2007) elections, the party was awarded 8 out of 250 seats in the parliament, making it formally the second-largest party after the Ba'th itself. This does not reflect popular support for the party, however, since the NPF runs on uncontested lists; on these, the Ba'th always holds a majority both inside the NPF and inside the parliament, while other member parties negotiate with the government for their share of candidates.
The dissident faction, DASU, is led by
Hassan Abdelazimsince the death of al-Atassi. It remains illegal and has been subject to sporadic repression, although it is semi-openly active since the accession of Bashar al-Assadto power in 2000, and the limited liberalization that followed. The DASU the leading member of the National Democratic Gathering, a nationalist-leftist opposition alliance founded in 1979.
Many aspects of
Muammar al-Gaddafi's Libyan revolution were based on that of Gamal Abdel Nasser. Like Nasser, Qaddafi seized power with a Free Officers Movement, which, in 1971became the Arab Socialist Union. Like its Egyptian counterpart, the Libyan ASU was the sole legal party, and was designed as a vehicle for integrated national expression rather than as a political party. In 1972, Qaddafi pushed hard for the formation of a Federation of Arab Republics, combining Libya with Egypt and Syria under his leadership, but the plan never took off. 1974, saw an attept for union with Tunisiaalso fail.
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