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November 26, 1956

Untitled report about the Baath Party

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



In response to your question regarding the strength of the Arab Baath party among Syrian popular circles and the Army, here are some relevant details:


First: The Arab Baath Party is very strong in popular circles and has strong branches in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon. It also wields a considerable amount of power in the Syrian National Assembly, and has two ministers in Sabri Esseily's cabinet: Salah al-Bitar, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, and Khalil al-Kallas, the Minister of National Economy.


Because the Party undertook to maintain the present regime in Syria, fight colonialism, combat Western interference, and oppose the Baghdad Pact, its power has increased in countries where the majority of the population favours cooperation with groups opposed to the West.


The Party's cooperation with the communists and its announcement that it wishes to strengthen its political relations with the Soviet Union, which showed a definite willingness to help Syria and supply it with whatever arms and military equipment it requires, has increased the Party's power. And here is the proof.


Second: The Party's fight against feudalism, its desire to establish real socialism in the country, and its policy of combating colonialism in cooperation with communism, has strengthened its power in popular circles, especially in areas outside the cities which were once under feudal control. Its influence in village and rural areas is so very strong that we can now say that this Party is powerful in the regions of Homs, Hama, Hauran, Latakia, and Northern Syria in areas at a distance from big cities.


If we take into account its cooperation with the Communist Party, we would be able to say that it is within the Baath Party's power to impose its control over one quarter of Syria's inhabitants. And although the Party claims that it has 100,000 registered members, in reality it has over 50,000 registered members.


Al-Hizb al-Watani al-Souri has lately made an attempt, together with Hizb al-Shaab which also works against the Baath, to weaken the Party; but our detailed analysis of this issue confirms that their efforts were in vain. The situation in the aftermath of the incidents that took place in Egypt, of the Anglo-French agreement to attack Egypt in cooperation with Israel, and of Iraq's encouragement of the PPS against Syria, allowed Party leaders to re-establish more effective control over popular circles than they ever did before.


As for the Syrian Army, it is certain that the overwhelming majority of its young officers and soldiers are part of the overall opposition to colonialism and dislike the notion of cooperation with Iraq. They believe that if Syria joins Iraq it will definitely lose the power that it currently enjoys, and which top Iraqi leaders envy it for, and for that reason they oppose any such move with all their might.


The Arab Baath Socialist Party boasts among its registered members today 391 Syrian officers in addition to the fact that these officers have been able to enlist more than their own number from among the ranks of junior officer. The party boasts among its members a total of 2,735 soldiers and commissioned officers.


In view of all that, the Party wields a considerable amount of power within the army which it can make use of when necessary. What increases this power even further is that most of these members hold prominent positions within the army. For example, Major Abdel-Hameed al-Saraj, head of the Deuxieme Bureau and some of his assistants, such as first Lieutenant Jamil Fayyad, Lieutenant Daqqaq, Ziad al-Hariri, Major Jawad from thearmy's accounting bureau, Major Wafa'i, officer Yousef al-Yazeji, Salim Ibrahim, Abdel-Ghani Qannout, Salem al-Atassi, Hanna Jawad, Jamal al-Soufi, all hold prominent positions in the army, and are members of this Party rather than the Communist Party.

The Baath Party gains strength in Iraq, Jordan, and Lebanon in its objective to fight colonialism, preserve the current Syrian regime, oppose the Baghdad Pact, and achieve other goals.


Document Information


Emir Farid Chehab Collection, GB165-0384, Box 12, File 139/12, Middle East Centre Archive, St Antony’s College, Oxford.


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Youmna and Tony Asseily