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February 1, 1950

Ongoing Activities to Cement the Syrian-Iraqi Union

This document was made possible with support from Youmna and Tony Asseily


Ongoing Activities to cement the Syrian-Iraqi union


It is clear that activities aimed at cementing a union between Syria and Iraq are increasing day by day by the plan's supporters in both Iraq and Damascus. Nabih and Adel al-Azma are pursuing their efforts in this regard, and one of them, Nabih, keeps on visiting Mr Abdel-Mun’em al-Kilani, the Iraqi Chargé d'Affaires in Beirut, to update him on the extent to which efforts by his supporters in Hizb al-Watani in Syria have progressed in this regard.


Preparations are underway, in an atmosphere shrouded in mystery, to convene a secret conference in Baghdad that will bring together Hizb al-Istiqlal al-Iraqi and other Iraqi parties that support the above-mentioned plan.


It is worth mentioning that Nabih al-'Azma declared at a private meeting in the Normandy Hotel, that the majority of Hizb al-Watani's members stand behind his support for the plan and that this party is continuously working to achieve this union regardless of the results. Mr Nabih and the Regent exchange secret messages through the Iraqi Legation concerning the relevant necessary guidelines. These guidelines have played a key role in bringing about the resignation of the Ayoubi Government and in entrusting the formation of a new government to HE Tewfiq al-Suwaidi. This, however, was conditional upon giving Mohammad Mahdi Kubba the post of Foreign Minister, and Saddiq Shenshel the post of Interior Minister, in their capacity as leader and secretary general of Hizb al-Istiqlal, respectively. However, the position adopted by Nouri al-Said and Saleh Jaber prevented the fulfilment of this condition and Hizb al-lstiqlal remained out of the new government.


On the afternoon of Wednesday 1/2/1950, a meeting was held at the headquarters of Hizb al-Nida' al-Qaoumi, attended by Camille Chamoun; Fayez al-Samerra'i; Nabih and Adel al-‘Azma; Abdel-Qader Shreiteh, President of Hizb al-Watani's Latakia branch; Fayez al-‘Azm from Damascus; and Mounir al-Abbas, a Syrian Alawite extremist and former minister. At the meeting, they discussed the need to unify the four parties: al-Nida’ al-Qaomi, 'Usbat al-'Amal al- Qaomi in Lebanon, al- Hizb al-Watani in Syria, and Hizb al-Istiqlal in Iraq into a single party with the aim of achieving Syrian-Iraqi union and incorporating Lebanon into this union, provided opposition parties lend it in their strong support and help make its objective a success.


In the evening of that same day, another meeting was held at the headquarters of 'Usbat al-'Amal al-Qaomi to round up the discussions that had started each session. After a lot of give and take, they agreed to delegate Fa’eq al-Samerra’i to carry the outcome of the discussions to Baghdad to share with the Regent and with Ali Mohammad Mahdi Kubba, President of Hizb al-Istiqlal, so that they can improve on them or rewrite them in another form, if necessary.


Once agreement was reached, al-Samerra'i took its details to Baghdad and I understood that Mohammad Shuqair, editor in chief of al-Nida' newspaper, had travelled with al-Samerra'i on the same plane in order to take part in the discussions about this subject; he recently returned to Beirut.


Nabih al-Azma and his colleagues in the leadership of al-Nida' and al-'Usbat Parties are waiting for an answer from Iraq to proceed accordingly. On Sunday 5/2/l950, Sheikh Abdullah al-'Alayli delivered a speech at al-'Usbat's headquarters entitled ‘Why I am an Arab Nationalist', in the audience were the Chargé d'Affaires of the Iraqi Legation; Mr Farhan Shubeilat, Minister Plenipotentiary of Trans-Jordan; Nabih al-'Athma; a group of people from Hizb al-Nida'; and al-'Usbat's leaders. The speech contained many calls for the implementation of the union plan.

Movement toward a Syrian-Iraqi union surge, including convening a secret conference in Baghdad and other private meetings.


Document Information


Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 12, File 20/12, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford.


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Youmna and Tony Asseily