Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Photos found on Wikipedia. Syrian leader Shishakli in the early 1950s, photo from Online Museum of Syrian History. Egyptian leader Gamal A. Nasser in 1937 as a law school student.

Lurene's email in 2014:

MAY 1990


Shishakli ruled quite well by establishing a political structure.

1951 to 1953 – ideological, interests of groups – various clashes. Behind these riots were organizational thinking, which eventually gave rise to Ba’athism.

Question in 1951 was who would lead the riot police during riots. Ministry of interior or Army? Army was Anti-Capitalist, but Riot police didn’t have a political bent. Interior Ministry in hands of upper class People’s Party.

Shishakli in Oct, Nov of 1951 faced a clash on this question. Nov. 28, new government formed. Most ministers members of People’s Party, which means anti-army and anti-upper class. Nov. 29, 1951, many jailed by Shishakli. Until February 1954, Shishakli had effective control. Agricultural reform the big accomplishment, because in the Jazira (desert area) there were good crops. But Shishakli put limits on land ownership. Slipped the moral rug out from under the Ba’athists.

1952, Shishakli begins advocating Western ties. Why?

No one knows for sure. But he outlawed all political parties in 1952. 1953 97% said Shishakli should be president and change constitution.

July 1952 – Egyptian Coup. Nasser takes over, in 1954.

Imitation of Egyptians AND identity crisis were hallmark in Syrian politics. After 1952, Syria lost it’s predominance among Arab countries.

October 1953, beginning of end of Shishakli. Only 20 % turn out in next election. More street riots. Jan 1954: Arrested, respected Syria statesman and 1925 leader of revolt against French. Two most dignified symbols of Syrian independence. Atasi and Atash. Druze, Army clash. Druze villages bombed, hundreds killed.

Afraid that this revolt would give one of several parties reason to invade. Shishakli overthrown.

Revolutionary Council takes over. Army goes “back to the barrack”, as they say in a communiqué. Feb., March 1954, back to Civilian Regime. Now 3 main powers left to vie for power. P.P.S. one of them. Ba’athists.


They had an open field when Army stepped back. Revolution party wanted major change. Not EVOLUTIONARY but REVOLUTIONARY.

Also had eclectic support. Extremely anti-imperialist, but not too pro-Soviet.

In disharmony with communists, but was not much difference.

Arab Unity goal

Ba’athists established support on a personal, individual basis. Not based on broad families (Hamulah).

Transition to a national from traditional ideology. This changed the status of the Druze and Alawites, where politics were based on sectors.

Ba’ath Party Plan to establish Arab Unity:

1) Establish bases with similar Arab-Regimes
2) ? [notes missing here]

Adnan al-Maliki, charismatic top army officer. Assassinated while a senior army officer, big Ba’ath supporter in army, 1955.

Also in ’55, first Syrian-Soviet Arms Deal. But communists were credited for this, much to irritation of Ba’ath.

Syrian Ba’ath was in opposition to parliamentary powers. Afraid of communist/Russian or Syrian conservative alignment with U.S.

So Egypt Union discussed. Nasser at peak of his success. Nationalized Suez, snubbed British, French, Israelis. No alternative for Ba’athists.

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