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December 22, 1952

The Situation in Syria

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Secret and confidential; Information

Subject: the situation in Syria


The situation in the Syrian Army is really dangerous; during Colonel Adeeb al-Shishakli's absence a movement with the intention of staging a military-political coup has appeared on the scene. An infantry brigade has even marched towards Damascus to occupy it, but has to retreat in order to avoid a confrontation when a tank division intercepted its advance.


A secret telegram was sent to Colonel al-Shishakli urging him to quickly return from Egypt. Since his return, however, he seems in an agitated state, does not sleep in his house, he is guarded by two armoured tanks, and all the officers loyal to him are confined to their camps. He intends to introduce major changes, chief among which is entrusting the infantry brigade stationed in Qatana to officers he can rely on.


Reasons behind the movement:


Placing Akram Haurani under house arrest and arresting 12 other leaders from his party. Akram and all the members of his party are very angry at Colonel al-Shishakli and want to get back at him.


The assassination of Mujib bin Suleiman the spiritual leader and three Alawite individuals, without any military or political justification, at the hands of Lieutenant Abdel-Haq Chehadeh, the chief of military police who 1s also close to al- Shishakli. This led to the development of a strong movement among the Alawites which required the deployment of a large military contingent to monitor the situation.


The transfer of Colonels Nizam al-Din and Shuqair with the intention of removing them from sensitive positions.


The extreme anger of political parties which had been dissolved upon the establishment of Hizb al-Tahreer al-Watani.


A bomb was thrown at Hizb al-Tahreer al-Watani's headquarters in Hama and another bomb was placed in a police car.


Among the most prominent officers opposed to Colonel al- Shishakli, are : Colonel Nizam al-Din, Colonel 'Aziz Abdel- Karim, Colonel Shuqair, Major Nabih al-Sabbagh, Major Shatra, and Major Shaarani.


The officers loyal to Colonel al- Shishakli are: Chief Ahmad al-Masri – artillery, Chief Abdel-Ghani Qannout - artillery, Major Ibrahim al-Husseini - Director General of the police and the Sûreté Générale, Major Ahmad al-'Azm - Commander of the Demascus region, First lieutenant Abdel-Ghani Dahman - tanks, Lieutenant Ismail Shishakli - tanks, Lieutenant Hakim from Hama, First Lieutenant Mounir Mousa Pacha, Lieutenant Nafe' Abeid, First Lieutenant Abdel- Haq Chehadeh - commander of the military police, Lieutenant Mutee' al-Jabi - Joint Chiefs of Staff, Lieutenant Ahmad Abdel-Karim – Joint Chiefs of Staff, First Lieutenant Hussein Qadi - head of the political branch, Chief 'Izzeddin al-Choufi - a Druze, and Chief Na'im Wafa'i.


Beirut, 22/12/1952

The Syrian Army faces a dangerous situation, including a rising movement to stage a military-political coup.


Document Information


Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 12, File 76/12, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford.


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Youmna and Tony Asseily