The Rebels: A Study of Post-War Insurrections

The Rebels: A Study of Post-War Insurrections

The Rebels: A Study of Post-War Insurrections

The Rebels: A Study of Post-War Insurrections

Excerpt

The central figures are few and not always those most prominently in the public eye. A front man is a convenience to those who prefer to wield power in obscurity, as the almost forgotten General Nagib was to Colonel Nasser. In Vietnam, the real rebel was Giap rather than Ho Chi Minh; in Algeria, the men who plotted the insurrection were Mohammed Benbella and Belkacem Krim, not Ferhat Abbas, who became the first "Prime Minister" of the provisional Algerian Government. In Cyprus, the division of labour between Grivas and Archbishop Makarios was clearer than the division of responsibility for the outbreak. In the anti- Sukarno rebellion in Indonesia, the leadership was indeterminate, which helps to account for its initial failures. But in most of the other rebellions there was no ambiguity about the Number One: Castro of Cuba, Chin Peng of Malaya, Luis Taruc of the "Huks" in the Philippines were unchallenged.

2
Against French Rule

IN Tunis, in February, 1958, I vainly sought an interview with Belkacem Krim who, at that time, was not in to journalists. A more fortunate colleague, Stanley Karnow of Time magazine, found himself sitting next to him in an airliner some months later. When Krim realised that he was not talking to a Frenchman, he became communicative. Karnow's account of this conversation, which appeared in Time of July 7th, 1958, is a revealing and important document. Krim is a Berber, a member of the autochthonous race of the Maghreb. He was born near Dra el-Mizan in Kabylia, in a wild and inhospitable area of eastern Algeria. He is a natural rebel, almost a prototype. His first rebellion, says Karnow, was against his father, a garde champêtre who wanted him to stay with the clan and mould his life according to Berber traditions. But Krim had heard of the European way of life; to taste it, he ran away to Algiers, where he learned to read and speak . . .

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