T. Cliff

The Problem of the Middle East

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A variety of books have been written on the Middle East. Most of them, however, have set out to depict the customs and traditions of the region or have dealt with diplomatic intrigues and royal conspiracies, and are written on a background of exoticism designed to enhance the romance of the East. The aim of this book is to describe the Arab East as it is, stripped of all romantic camouflage. Its proposes to describe and analyse the economic structure of the countries of the Arab East, the social and political forces struggling within it, the role of imperialism, the national movement and the workers’ movement. Seeing that there are multiple threads connecting Egypt, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, and that they have many features in common, I have attempted to encompass all of them. At the same time I have found it unnecessary to include the states of the Arabian Peninsula (Saudi Arabia, Yemen, etc.) or Transjordan, as these countries are so backward that no national movement has yet emerged, let alone a workers’ movement; they therefore are not moved by those mighty rumblings which turn the Arab East into an active partner on the stage of world History.

The manuscript was completed in July 1945; but seeing that from then until the completion of its translation from Hebrew into English some months passed during which important political changes took place, I have found it necessary to bring the description of the political situation up to date. The other sections of the book have not found it necessary to touch.

I owe a deep debt of gratitude to Comrade S. Munir, without whose untiring aid the book could not have been written. Invaluable help was also given by other comrades whom I wish sincerely to thank.


May 1946

Last updated on 28.5.2011