Mansour al-Atrash, the son of Sultan Pasha al-Atrash and one of the earliest Druze members of the Baath Party died yesterday. It is with great saddness that I received this note from a good friend Talal al-Atrash yesterday, November 14, 2006. My condolences to him and the entire Atrash family, which has served Syria in so many ways.
My grand-uncle Mansour al-Atrash, son of Sultan Pacha al-Atrash, passed away today, 14 novembre 2006, at 6:30 am. He was 80 years old.
A big ceremony will be held in Sweida on Friday, in the city's stadium. Hundreds of thousands of Druze wll come from all over Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and maybe from the occupied Golan Heights, as well as prominent Arab personalities are expected to attend the ceremony that will be held before his burial. The same kind of ceremony that took place when Sultan and his brother Zaid, died in 1982 and in 1996.
He will be buried later during the day in Hushus, a wooden land planted by Sultan, that he owned, near his village, Qryaya.
Best regards, Talal
Talal took me and my 81 year old father to visit Mansour in Qryaya in April 2005. We sat in the madafa of Sultan Pasha and chatted for several hours. At first Mansour was distant. Ever the Arab nationalist, he was not eager to welcome Americans who had so recently invaded Iraq. My father, being of his generation, broke the ice and quickly established a common bond with him. He explaining how we had just been to Lebanon to visit a hospital next to the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila that my father had helped raise close to 1.5 milllion dollars for. As the Vice chairman of the board of ANEARA, he had also helped raise money to serve breakfast to close to 20,000 Palestinian children in Gaza schools each morning.
Mansour discussed my article about the 1947 Druze uprising against President Quwatli
duing the first years of Syrian independence, when the Druze had demanded a measure of federalism in Syria and the right to administer their own affairs in the Mountains where they reside. The Druze were unsuccessful in retaining a large degree of autonomy, but they played a central role in bringing down the Shishakli dictatorship. Mansour remembered the events of the period with great clarity.
: Sami Moubayed has written a proper obituary of Mansur entitled, "Missing the Pasha
," which gives a much fuller biography of Mansur and his eventful life during Syria's turbulent years of democracy and coups.]
, a friend and close associate of Michel Aflaq, the founder fo the Baath Party. He became President of the Regional Command of the Party in 1965, but was ousted from office and arrested when Salah Jadid carried out his coup in February 1966. (Photo thanks to http://www.syrianhistory.com/
When Mansour married a Christian woman, his father refused to speak to him for many years. Sultan Pasha eventually repaired relations with his son, who became the leading spokesperson for the Atrash family and the Druze community in Syria following Sultan Pasha's death.
Sultan Pasha al-Atrash: (1891-1982) Born in al-Qurayya village near Swaida. He partcipated in battles against the Ottoman Turks during the Arab Revolt. He raised the Arab flag over Damascus upon its conquest by Emir Faysal's troops on September 29, 1918. He led the Syrian Revolt against the French in 1925. After several early victories, the Revolt was suppressed in 1927 by the French mandatory troops, causing Sultan Pasha to flee Syria for exile, first in Transjordan (now Jordan) and then in the Hijaz in Saudi Arabia. He returned to Syria on being pardoned by the French in May 1937. He died in 1982.