Armed Struggle against the States its implications and repercussions on populations

Armed Struggle against the States its implications and repercussions on populations

By Mahmoud A. Suleiman

Armed struggle has various shades, connotations, meanings besides the cause underlying their eruption. Humankind has witnessed the woes of wars linked to gross injustice emanating from a hegemonic minority elite governments or national totalitarian military coup d’état regimes or from an imperialist colonials or a settled imperialist- a colonist and supremacist apartheid rule. The suppressed majority of the country who submitted to the injustice under subjugation of the ruler may rebel by lapse of time and awareness increase through continuing education, communication with the external world, neighbouring regional countries and the universe at large -internationally.

Here is a non-exhaustive list of some of the names of the Armed Struggles against the state:


Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka, formerly known by the British colonial name Ceylon until 1972 – Tamil Tigers armed struggle for identity since 23 July 1983 and 26-year military campaign, the Sri Lankan military defeated the Tamil Tigers in May 2009. At the time, the Sri Lankan government forces have also been accused of human rights abuses, systematic impunity for serious human rights violations, lack of respect for habeas corpus in arbitrary detentions, and forced disappearance.

Middle East:

The Palestinian Case; Is an Armed struggle in search for retrieval of land and a recognised state since 1946 to date.


Kurdistan Workers Party – Partiya Karkeren Kardistan (PKK)

Abdullah Öcalan founded the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in 1974 and on 21 March 2013, Abdullah Öcalan announced the end of armed struggle and a ceasefire with peace talks. It began in 1984. PKK was founded on 27 November 1978 in 1973 a small group under leadership of Abdullah Öcalan released a declaration on Kurdish identity in Turkey.


South American Continent:

Armed Struggle in Cuba, 1952-1959

This was the armed revolt conducted by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement and its allies against the government of Cuban President Fulgencio Batista and finally ousted Batista on 1 January 1959, replacing his government with a revolutionary socialist state.


Colombian Conflict 1964-2014 = 50 years

This is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia known as Fuerzas Armada Revolucionarias de Colombia (FARC). Alfonso Cano, the Farc’s main leader since 2008, was killed in November 2011. He was replaced by Rodrigo Londono, better known under his alias of Timochenko .The FARC is the oldest and largest group among Colombia’s left-wing rebels and is one of the world’s richest guerrilla armies. In November 2012, the Farc and the government opened peace talks, focusing on six key issues: land reform, political participation, disarmament of the rebels, drug trafficking, the rights of victims, and the implementation of the peace deal. The group is on US and European lists of terrorist organisations.

African Continent:

South Africa:

 The white minoritySouth Africa introduced apartheid in 1948, as a systematic extension of pre-existing racial discrimination in the country and the lawsuit, commencing in November 1960, lasted almost six years. Although Apartheid only ‘officially’ started in 1948, repression was rife in South Africa long before that date. The history  of struggle in South Africa  has two parts, namely; Emerging African Nationalism and Working-Class and Popular Resistance 1900-1950s, and The Armed Struggle and Popular Resistance 1960-1994. In the Apartheid South Africa the white people ruled the roost, and black people were not neighbors—they were gardeners (or, as most people called them, “garden boys”), domestic workers (“maids”), and laborers.

African National Congress (ANC) is the revolutionary movement – took up armed struggle against the Apartheid South Africa as a means for liberation from the white minority Supremacy regime. Freedom Struggle in South Africa began in the 20th century up until South Africa’s first democratic election in April 1994. Prominent names of the ANC included Oliver Tambo, Nelson Mandela , Archbishop Desmond Tutu,  Thabo Mbeki,  Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and the victims of Soweto Township, student leader Steve Biko (Stephen Bantu Biko) who on 12 September 1977, died in a prison cell in Pretoria and many others anti-apartheid activists in South Africa in the 1960s and 1970s.


Angolan people used Angolan Armed Struggle against the Portuguese colonials for the ‘Total Independence led by Jonas Savimbi through Angolan Movement, The Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA)or Portuguese:  União Nacional pela Independência Total de Angola (UNITA). The Union for the Total Independence of Angola (UNITA) rebel movement controlled various portions of Angolan territory over differing lengths of time. During the Cold War the U.S.-backed anti-Communist forces of UNITA were engaged in opposition to the Angolan government, which received support from Cuban troops. On November 21, 2002, the Angolan government and UNITA declared the provisions of the Lusaka Protocol fully implemented and called for the lifting of sanctions on UNITA imposed by the United Nations Security Council. On May 6, 2003, the U.S. Government lifted the sanctions imposed to bring pressure upon UNITA. A large government force had pursued Savimbi. The Angolan rebel movement (UNITA) has confirmed the death of its veteran leader Jonas Savimbi, and shown the bullet-riddled body on television. Mr. Savimbi’s body was shown to reporters in Lucusse, a remote town in Moxico province, eastern Anglo Monday, 25 February 2002. UNITA is the movement that first waged a guerrilla war against Portuguese colonial rule, 1966–1974. It  then confronted the rival Popular Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) during the decolonization conflict, 1974–75. And after independence in 1975 (UNITA fought the ruling (MPLA) in the Angolan Civil War until the death of leader Jonas Savimbi in a clash with government troops in 2002.


This is the armed struggle for independence of 1960-1975 against the Portuguese colonials led by Eduardo Mondiane and later by Samora Machel through Frente de Libertação de Moçambique (FRELIMO) movement. The rebel s Movement was founded in 1962 to fight for the independence of the Portuguese Overseas Province of Mozambique. Independence was achieved in June 1975 after the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon the previous year. At the party’s 3rd Congress in February 1977, it became an officially Marxist-Leninist political party. It identified as the Frelimo Party (Partido Frelimo. Independence was achieved in June 1975 after the Carnation Revolution in Lisbon the previous year. At the party’s 3rd Congress in February 1977, it became an officially Marxist-Leninist political party. It identified as the Frelimo Party (Partido Frelimo). Samora Moisés Machel (September 29, 1933 – October 19, 1986) was a Mozambican military commander, revolutionary socialist leader and eventual President of Mozambique. Machel led the country from independence in 1975 until his death in 1986, when his presidential aircraft crashed in mountainous terrain where the borders of Mozambique, Swaziland and South Africa converge.

Zimbabwe or the former Southern Rhodesia

Armed struggle 1970 to 1979 against the white minority rule of Ian Smith spearheaded by two freedom movements: Zimbabwe African National Union (ZANU) led by Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe African people’s Union (ZAPU) led by Joshua Nikomo.  In 1980 – Veteran pro-independence leader Robert Mugabe and his ZANU party win British-supervised independence elections. Mugabe is named prime minister and includes ZAPU leader Joshua Nikomo in his cabinet. Independence on 18 April is internationally recognised. However, in 1982 – Mugabe sacks Nikomo, accusing him of preparing to overthrow the government. In 1987 – Mugabe, Nikomo merged their parties to form ZANU-PF, ending the violence in southern areas. At last, – Mugabe changes constitution, becomes executive president in 1987.



Eritrean War for independence from Ethiopia during the period 1st September 1961 – 24 May 1991 by the two movements firstly the Eritrean Liberation Front (ELF) then the Eritrean People’s Liberation Front (EPLF) led by Ramadan Mohammed Nour and Isaias Afewerki respectively. Isaias Afwerki became the first president of the independent State of Eritrea, a position he has held since its independence in 1993.


The Sudanese people in the south of Sudan took up armed struggle in 1953, prior to the independence of Sudan itself from the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium in 1st January 1956. The armed struggle was for self-determination. It continued until the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), better known as  “Naivasha Agreement” signed by signed between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) led by the late Dr. John Garang Mabior and the Sudanese government in  the market town in Nakuru County, Kenya in January 2005. Dr. John Garang Mabior had not lived long to see the fruits of his struggle. He died in a plane crash after just 21 days being the First Vice President of Sudan. The people of south Sudan fought for 21 years, their struggle began on 18 August 1955 at the town of Torit by the Equatoria corps Southern soldiers – the Torit Mutiny. Thus, Torit is Synonymous with South Sudanese Armed Struggle, according to PaanLuel Wel in his article in the South Sudan News Agency August 20, 2011 (SSNA). It was the first time that Southerners openly displayed, in bullet and blood, their pent-up anger and political frustration with their northern elite politicians who inherited the Anglo-Egyptian colonizers in succession. A referendum was held from 9 to 15 January 2011 to determine if South Sudan should declare its independence from Sudan, with 98.83% of the population voting for independence. Consequently, the South of Sudan crowned with success and became independent as the Republic of South Sudan on 9 July 2011.  

Sudan again

Darfur Rebel Movements – Sudan Liberation Army/Movement (SLA/M) and Sudan Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) took up arms when the National Islamic Front (NIF) Military junta government President Brigadier-General Omer Hassan refused to negotiate with anyone not carrying arms in 2003. The two Movements only asked for the rights of the people they represent to have the right of power sharing and wealth sharing of the country to get out of the decades of the state of marginalisation. Once again, the country entered in to quandary through intransigence and political maneuvering with resultant of the never-ending all out civil war genocidal carnage in Darfur. The year 2003 will go down in the history of the Darfuri people’s Kick-off of their Armed Struggle against the regime that denied them their legitimate citizenship rights. The so-called Islamic Salvation regime or the National Salvation Revolution – as allegedly nominated – did not come according to the choice of the Sudanese people. A military oppressive dictatorship spawned into a countless number of names from the Muslim Brotherhood to each of the then Islamic Charter Front (ICF), National Islamic Front (NIF)  then broke up and split into the National Congress Party (NCP) and the Popular Congress Party (PCP), for deception and fraudulence.

There are a number of questions pose themselves in relation to armed struggle against the state. The questions involve titles as to whether Armed Resistance is:

  • Justified: Six conditions must be satisfied for a war to be considered just. A war that starts as a Just War may stop being a Just War if the means used to wage it are inappropriate

 Six conditions must be satisfied for a war to be considered just: Reference:


1. The war must be for a just cause

2. The war must be lawfully declared by a lawful authority

3. The intention behind the war must be good.

4. All other ways of resolving the problem should have been tried first

5. There must be a reasonable chance of success

6. The means used must be in proportion to the end that the war seeks to achieve

  • Legitimacy VS Terrorism armed struggle is it for the legitimate rights of the people or a daydream.
  • Lessons learned
  • End to Armed resistance/Fate of Armed Resistances/ in so doing, have they successfully won?
  • Termed freedom fighting/ Revolutionary movement/ Rebellion/ guerrilla warfareحرب العصابات
  • Objectives of the armed resistance against the state are mostly revolve round Democracy, equality, freedom and justice are the central objectives the rebel groups usually envisage and when combined they will address power sharing, wealth sharing and the related other specific demands such as development  in infrastructure, services improved housing and education , healthcare and the protection of cultural diversity, local autonomy and defining the identity of the country’s inhabitants , ridding of minority hegemony
  • Whether  it Is fair comparing the outcome of  armed struggle and peaceful movements expressing essentially the same/similar  objectives
  • Has armed resistance historically led to harsh elite led repression?
  • Role of State affiliated paramilitary groups entrusted by the state remain its backbone and proxy fighters to terrorize the local population into subjugation and submission, displacement and immigration for Asylum Seeking into the Diaspora
  • Role of regional and international support networks for the outcome of the armed rebellion
  • Role of Movements’ political vision on the outcome
  • Rationale of the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the wake of its inability to apprehend the assailants of reprehensible crimes in view of lack of mandate, Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court on 17 July 1998 is a judicial institution with an exclusively judicial mandate, lack of cooperation from non-signatories  to the Rome Institute or the countries that have not ratified the Rome Statue; thus the ICC remains toothless, pointless to some extent  whereas the perpetrators  of the heinous crimes  are at large
  • Should the UN Security Council make it mandatory for all the UN members the membership of the Rome Statue along with a formation of a Police Force belonging to the International Criminal Court along the lines of the International Police Organisation, The INTERPOL?
  • The other central question is whether   the rebel groups have the capability of running a state of rule of law with good governance, justice, equality, democracy and prosperity. that is exactly the sixty four dollar question as the saying/parable goes
  • Another question: Do we expect a real and serious initiative from the Armed Movements such to stop the bloodshed and find in reality proper peace?

Dr. Mahmoud A. Suleiman compiled this article. He is an author, columnist and a blogger. His blog is



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