From Bourguiba to Adams: Reflections on Politics, War and Peace

Was it Gerry Adams in Ireland and Habib Bourguiba in Tunisia? Apart from the different political context, the two nationalist leaders had much in common and followed similar strategies in their struggle. With the notable difference that in the end Bourguiba achieved full and complete independence for his country as well as the withdrawal of foreign troops, while Adams achieved neither.

By Dr. Mounir Hanablia

Gerry Adams was even more Machiavellian in being both the head of a terrorist organization and the spokesman for an official political party. But in the end, Bourguiba obtained the complete independence of his country and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country.

The history of the Tunisian national movement has been questioned since the rise to power of the Ennahdha party and the renewal of the (old) theses of the Desturian Party adopted by the Youssefist movement (reference to Salah Ben Youssef, editor’s note) after the internal autonomy agreements of 1955, October 1954 at the end, immediately after the beginning of the national-liberation struggle in Algeria, in connection with a supposed deal between Bourguiba and France, before the disarmament of the maquisards.

In what sense were the differences encountered by the Tunisian national movement unique to it, and more importantly, at what point does the negotiation process risk opening up an open struggle in the national liberation movement and accuse its promoters of treason?

A study of the Irish conflict will help to better understand the complexity of the question. Ireland is certainly a country that has managed to recover from war and the often arbitrary attacks that killed 5,000 people, injured several thousand and imprisoned tens of thousands over 36 years.

Political struggle and/or armed struggle

But the particularities of the negotiation process, which began informally in 1982, as well as the long delays between the IRA-ordered cease-fire in 1994 and the Irish Republican Army’s self-disarmament in 2005, intrigue and certain remarks, even if ultimately if a political agreement was signed that definitively ended the conflict between the two irreconcilable enemies and resulted in the government bringing together Gerry Adams’s nationalist Sinn Féin party, “the faithful” The Reverend Ian Pesley’s Ulster Unionist Party to the British Crown.

Is such an outcome conceivable that would end a protracted conflict of colonial origin and serve as a model for resolving comparable situations, such as that between Israelis and Palestinians?

After the partition of Ireland, there was still work to be done for the nationalists, namely the reunification of the island under a single political authority independent of Great Britain. It was for this purpose that the IRA was created, using armed struggle to achieve the goal. The British army and, as a rule, militias of Irish loyalists, victims of terrorist attacks, organized increasingly harsh collective repressions against Catholics, whom they assimilated into supporters of Irish nationalists.

But in 1969 there was a split within the IRA and there were now two organisations, the official and the Provisional. The (official) reason was that the leadership of the organization focused on the political struggle to the detriment of the armed struggle, and the Protestant militias, including some nationalist neighborhoods, could not repel the attacks and destruction caused by the Catholic residents. the capital Belfast paid the price.

The Provisional IRA succeeded in protecting the population from the loyalist militias, thereby gaining their support. But with a resurgence of nationalist terrorist attacks against law enforcement and militias, particularly after Black Friday in the 1970s, when nearly two dozen car bombs exploded in central Belfast, the British government tightened anti-terror legislation. , and nationalist prisoners were considered common rights. Therefore, hunger strikes were held and dozens of prisoners died before their claims of using special prison regime were not met.

The Provisional IRA had received secret shipments of arms from Colonel Gaddafi, but a boat called the Exund was boarded off the French coast, ending a planned attack on the British military and raising the possibility of its presence there. A top level informant organization acting on behalf of the British.

Secret negotiations and political settlement

However, since 1982, the leader of the Provisional IRA, Gerry Adams, started secret negotiations with the Prime Minister of the Republic of Ireland about the possibility of a peace agreement with the British. But for this, he had to gradually eliminate his opponents, for whom any solution other than the withdrawal of British troops from the island was considered treason. Hunger strikes in prisons and the death of prisoners, one of whom, Bobby Sands, was elected as a member of the Northern Ireland Parliament while in prison, served as an alibi for him to accept the need to participate. Parliamentary and municipal elections in the Republic of Ireland. Such a possibility was always rejected by the organization that did not recognize the division of the island. And he introduced himself as a member of a civilian political party called Sinn Féin. But after the IRA gained a majority in the Army Council, Gerry Adams was able to impose a cease-fire on his organization that was renewed on a monthly basis from 1993 and eventually with the participation of Irish-American businessmen and the Clinton administration. In 1998, in exchange for the cessation of the armed struggle, the signing of the so-called “Good Friday” agreement stipulated the participation of nationalists in the elections.

However, the question of disarming the organization defended by US Senator Mitchell’s plan remained open, especially since the 2004 attack on Belfast police headquarters resulted in the declassification of documents revealing the identity of all the attackers. Agents acting on behalf of the British and the arrest of a bank with hostage taking, said the perpetrators brought a significant loot of 26 million pounds. But the execution of the conspirators, including the mother of eight, severely damaged Sinn Féin’s image, particularly in America, and was responsible for its electoral defeat in both Irelands.

But after the attacks of 11 September 2001, under threat from the Americans and to prevent further funding of Irish nationalists, the IRA finally agreed to destroy its weapons cache, which led to Sinn’s involvement in 2005. did He opposed the Northern Ireland government as a second party with his bitterest enemies, the Unionists.

Gerry Adams’ strategic duality

Who was Gerry Adams really and was he a British agent? It may surprise you today that he always denied that he was a key member of the IRA’s military command as Sinn Féin’s president. The secret negotiations he conducted without anyone’s knowledge and the opportunistic way he eliminated his opponents in the organization’s votes are noteworthy. For this, he benefited from the support of the Irish government, a fact also proven by the British, whose secret services thwarted plans to attack him.

Adams’ detractors, and there were many of them, accused him of deliberately allowing hunger strikers to die to ensure his party’s electoral success, and he argued for a time that the IRA could no longer fight. filled with war material provided by Colonel Gaddafi.

He would also, as a member of the Army Committee, claim that he was never informed of the often bloody armed operations of which he could not have been ignorant, thereby allowing the state of war to be unnecessarily prolonged. And he did not shy away from double-talk, tending to suggest to members of his own organization that his peace proposals were purely tactical, that his open commitments would not be fulfilled and that the armed struggle would continue.

Ultimately, the treaties he finally signed and the disarmament of the IRA only confirmed the continued British presence in Northern Ireland, as well as the failure of the ever-targeted attempt to unify the island of Ireland. Irish nationalists fighting since 1921.

Gerry Adams was never held accountable for the crimes committed by his organization and was released in 2014 after being questioned by police following a complaint by one of the victim’s families. Libya, on the other hand, was wrongfully accused of planting a bomb on the Panamanian plane that crashed in Lockerbie in 1988, and was subjected to a heavy embargo, which was actually the responsibility of the Iranians, and Gaddafi met this ignominious end in 1988. Nothing could justify the year 2011 except a stubborn grudge, an unquenchable thirst for revenge and a desire to lead by example.

Was Gerry Adams the new Bourguiba? Apart from the different political context, both were incarcerated and displayed a sense of survival and an ability to escape their enemies and convince their gunmen, which was extraordinary. Both distinguished between the desirable and the possible. Both saw America’s commitment to their own good.

Gerry Adams was even more Machiavellian in being both the head of a terrorist organization and the spokesman for an official political party. But in the end, Bourguiba obtained the complete independence of his country and the withdrawal of foreign troops from the country. Gerry Adams got none. It makes all the difference!

“The Secret History of the IRA”, essay by Ed Moloney, 512 pages, October 2002.

* Free practice doctor.

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