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Digital Archive International History Declassified

January 01, 1956


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    Report on a meeting between the Syrian and Lebanese Communist Parties in Damascus.
    "Communist Activities," January 01, 1956, History and Public Policy Program Digital Archive, Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 10, File 30C/10, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford.
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30C/ 10

Communist activities

The Conference of the Syrian-Lebanese Communist Party did not convene in Damascus on 20/12/1955 as I reported to you in an earlier message, but rather on 14/1/1956 in Damascus, at the home of Mr Ahmad Abaza located in the Kurdish area, under the Chairmanship of Khaled Beikdache (Khālid Bikdāsh).

The events that impacted on the situation in Jordan and the mass demonstration that accompanied them were the reason behind the postponement; the Communist Party at the time wanted to postpone the meeting until the situation which followed these events becomes clearer.

The first session of the meeting, which took place in the morning of 14/1/1956, was devoted to the Secretary General of the Communist Party, Khaled Beikdache’s report on the current situation in the Arab countries as a result of foreign pressure on Syria, Lebanon, and Jordan. This pressure, he said, aims at isolating Syria from other Arab countries, involving Lebanon and Jordan in the Iraqi-Turkish Pact, and countering the strong position adopted by the Communist Party in support of the National Front established in these three countries to combat all kinds of colonial schemes. He then turned to the issue of the Communist Parties’ weak performance in these three countries in various circumstances and the need to make serious efforts to avoid such mistakes in the future.

He warned that a repeat of such mistakes would further impede the Party's work and activities on the national scene, and then turned his attention to the new plans that the Party should adopt in the future.

First: Lebanon— The Conference decided to pursue its activities within the framework of the Popular Front which operates within the context of the Lebanese Parties, Unions, and National Institutions' Conference, provided more effort is exerted in the following direction:

To infiltrate deep into popular circles in order to attract them to the Party.

Because workers', agricultural, and peasant organisations are the primary mainstays of the Party, more efforts should be exerted to incorporate them into the Communist Party and subject them to its authority through various easily applied methods.

To fight against foreign companies and spread hatred in the people's hearts against them by revealing the extent of their exploitation of their riches and rights, and form popular blocs that enjoy the Party's support in order to combat these foreign colonial institutions.

To exert more effort in monitoring government and foreign activities in the country that serve colonialism and its destructive schemes; the Party's success in elaborating its future plans depends on obtaining the most comprehensive and precise information about these matters.

With this in mind, the Conference prevailed upon officials in the Lebanese Party to exert additional efforts in this domain, and develop immediate plans to ensure the realisation of this objective to which the Conference attaches great importance.

To take better care of the Palestinian refugees in whom the Party sees a strong and effective potential to be tapped in the fight against colonialism; they have displayed in numerous occasions a tendency towards fighting the foreigners who are the root cause of their humiliation and exile from their country.

Either because some Arab elements seek to exploit this group of compatriots to their own ends, or on account of the transient enmity between them and those currently in power in Iraq, the Communist Party is duty-bound to placate this movement because it is currently fighting against colonialism and the Baghdad Pact. However, it should be steered along partisan lines so that it would fall under the Party's total control after the Arabs abandon it once they are done with it.

Since the colonial powers and their supporters among the rulers, politicians, and feudal lords of the country depend on sectarian disagreements over basic principles, the Party calls upon these institutions to work together to rid themselves of these differences and do their best to sideline all persons, groups, and institutions that propagate them.

To pursue efforts aimed at compelling the Maronite Bishop to convene the religious meeting which he said he intends to hold provided it culminates in a decision to combat colonial pacts.

Second: Israel - The Lebanese Communist Party should pursue it contacts with the Israeli Communist Party through Lebanon, and endorse the resolution it adopted calling for the implementation of the Partition Plan issued by the United Nations on 29 November 1947, provided democratic governments are established in the Arab and Israeli areas, and provided the latter promptly start fighting against Western pacts, and siding with the Popular Front and supporting its activities.

Third: Syria - Endorsing the Syrian Government's current policies regarding the charter it signed with Egypt and Saudi Arabia, and regarding its fight against Western pacts, and siding with the Popular Front and supporting its activities.

Fourth: Jordan - The current situation in Jordan occupied a major part of the Conference's discussions after receiving, one day before the meeting began a detailed report from the Central Committee of the Jordanian Communist Party on the situation in the region. Resolutions adopted regarding Jordan addressed the following issues:

Lending support to the Popular Movement in Jordan by all possible means, including supplying it with money, weapons, and men, if need be.

A committee was formed under the chairmanship of Khaled Beikdache comprising Dr Nabih Irsheidat and no less than ten prominent communist Palestinian refugee personalities living in Syria and Lebanon, to oversee movements in Jordan and take advantage of the current situation to rouse the Jordanian public against the British, in particular, and colonialism in general.

Private information

Ever since Mr Khaled Beikdache took control in 1953 of Communist Parties in the Arab countries, contacts between Jordan and communist organisations take place through Syria. Instructions to the Communist Party say that communists in Jordan and everywhere should do their best to affect a rapprochement with the National Socialist and Arab Baath Socialist Parties in Jordan, and support their policy of fighting foreign pacts, especially the Iraqi-Turkish Pact, even if this requires causing armed disturbances in Jordan.

The Communist Party has also been able to send from Syria to its people in Jordan a large amount of weapons, military munitions, and explosives. These weapons, however, were not used in the latest disturbances because the communists know that, given the present circumstances, the time for widespread disturbances has not come yet. They know, on the other hand, that they should get ready for such an eventuality in the near future when relations between Jordan and the Arab countries opposed to the Baghdad Pact become more precarious. At that point, the communists will have ample opportunity to use Syrian and Saudi territories to activate a war between al-Ansar and Jordan, if the latter joins the Iraqi-Turkish Pact.

As for Dr Nabih Irsheidat on whom Mr Khaled Beikdache relies regarding matters in Jordan, he is one of the main founders of the Jordanian Communist Party and is currently being pursued by the Jordanian authorities. About a year ago, he sought refuge in Syria and stayed for about a month as a guest of Mr Khaled Beikdache. The latter interceded on his behalf and found him a job as a physician at al-Mujtahed Hospital in Damascus where he is still working. He has a group of communists around him whom he sends to carry out the instructions which he in turn receives from Khaled Beikdache.

At the above-mentioned Conference, the Communist Party also decided to execute a plan that requires communists to refrain from mounting direct demonstrations or any other such actions. They should instead hide behind other parties opposed to the West, and allow the Supporters of Peace Activists to take control of such movements in the Party’s name. This is intended to distance the latter from direct action, and avoid accusations of communism in case any organisers are arrested. The Party also used Christian leaders in Lebanon to attract the sympathy of ordinary people, as they attracted Bishop Nivon Saba, Head of Greek Orthodox Bishops in Zahle and the Muslim scholars in Syria to the peace activists' side, and likewise Sheikhs Mohammad al-Ashmar, Ahmad Kaftaro, al-Bitar, and others.


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