“Is Syria Different?” by Heydemann, Lawson, Lesch, and Seale

Roundtable on Syria Today (Part 3): Is Syria Different?
by Steven Heydemann, Fred Lawson, David Lesch, and Patrick Seale

This is the last installment (Part 3) of the first Jadaliyya Roundtable on Syria, moderated by Bassam Haddad and Joshua Landis, of Syria Comment. It features Steven Heydemann, Fred Lawson, David Lesch, and Patrick Seale. This post will be published on both Jadaliyya and Syria Comment. [See Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.]

Per the original announcement in Part 1, we are still awaiting responses from a number of writers from inside Syria who have understandably hesitated to write so far. Observers of Syria, inside and outside the country, are welcome to take a stab at the questions posed here in. Please send your responses to post@Jadaliyya.com

Roundtable Question #3

3. Is Syria different from its Arab counterparts in terms of the uprisings and the response? If yes, how so?

Steven Heydemann (Q #3). As someone who has long argued for authoritarian learning as a meaningful way to understand processes of regime adaptation to changing circumstances, the responses of the Syrian regime thus far have been deeply disappointing. I see very little evidence of learning in the behavior of the Syrian regime.

Aside from the non-trivial differences between the Syrian case and other Arab cases – some of which I referenced in responses to the first two questions, the regime seems determined to imitate strategies that have been proven in other settings to fail. The combination of limited and largely cosmetic concessions on one hand, and repression on the other, has been tried and failed in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and Yemen. The presidential speeches blaming outsiders and alluding to plots against the nation have been tried elsewhere, with no more effect. Repression has a mixed track record. It has worked in Algeria. It has worked in Bahrain, but only when a neighboring state’s army moved in to support the regime. In every other case, however, from Tunisia, to Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, and Jordan, repression has failed to bring protests to an end. It has often been catalytic in mobilizing support for the opposition. So while we can imagine conditions under which repression will be more effective in Syria than in other cases, the general observation is that nothing the Syrian regime has done in response to protests distinguishes it from the approaches taken by its counterparts elsewhere in the region.

On a different level, however, one key argument of the regime has been that its nationalist credentials and association with the “resistance” bloc in the Middle East give it a basis of legitimacy that pro-Western Arab regimes do not enjoy. For all that the current protests underscore how hollow such claims are, they cannot be dismissed entirely. Peace treaties with Israel and close ties to the West, whatever their strategic and economic benefits for countries like Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain, and Jordan, remain deeply unpopular with citizens across the region. It may well be the case that on this issue, and in terms of its overall anti-Westernism, the Syria regime has an element of popular legitimacy that its pro-Western counterparts might lack.

Yet it would be an enormous mistake to place too much weight on this notion. On one hand, it is not hard for regimes like the Syrian to manufacture legitimacy through staged performances of “spontaneous” mass support. On the other, we have ample evidence over the past two weeks that the regime’s nationalist credentials, such as they are, do not insulate it from the deep anger and resentment that ordinary Syrians feel about issues ranging from corruption and inequality, to the humiliations associated with everyday life under an authoritarian regime that pervades almost every aspect of their existence. Even in this respect therefore, what might appear to be exceptional about Syria begins to look more typical if we dig a little bit beneath the surface of the regime’s claims.

Fred Lawson (Q #3). I would be very surprised if Armenians and other Christians in Syria had changed their general posture toward the Ba’thi regime since the early 1990s. At that time, long after the horrors that drove their parents and grandparents out of Anatolia, shopkeepers and professionals would confide that whatever its shortcomings and injustices, the status quo was better than any situation that might open up the possibility of an Islamist-dominated order. Egypt’s Copts may well share these sentiments, but well-to-do younger members of that religious community nevertheless linked arms with their Muslim counterparts when the moment for collective action arrived. It seems harder to imagine even university-educated Armenian Orthodox marching alongside, say, their Maronite classmates through the streets of al-‘Aziziyyah, one of Aleppo’s more affluent neighborhoods.

On the other hand, Syria is not as deeply riven by sectarianism as Bahrain. No matter how loudly and consistently liberal reformers who hail from Bahrain’s downtrodden Shi’i population proclaim their cause to be nonsectarian, the country’s Sunni citizens will still worry that a fully elected parliament will end up advancing the interests of the local Shi’ah. So perhaps having a relatively large number of distinct religious communities in the general population will preclude the emergence of two mutually antagonistic blocs, neither one of which is willing to make conciliatory overtures to the other.

David Lesch (Q #3). Syria is different from other uprisings in several respects, most of which make Asad’s removal from power less likely. First, Syria is more ethnically and religiously diverse than countries such as Egypt and Tunisia. It has been fraught with political instability in the post-independence period until Hafiz al-Asad came to power in 1970. After that, Syrians seemed to accept—and Asad demanded—the Faustian bargain of less freedom and liberty in return for more political stability.

With chaos and disorder readily apparent on its borders in Lebanon and Iraq, most Syrians are reticent to engage in actions that might lead to instability…and the regime has done everything it can to promote this characterization for its own benefit. Secondly, despite what many in the opposition are saying, it is my impression that Bashar al-Asad is relatively well-liked in Syria—or at least not generally reviled. He lives a relatively humble existence, i.e. there will be no Wikileaks reports detailing an extravagant lifestyle b/c he doesn’t have one.

In addition, he has not given into the American and Israeli projects in the region, which has won him points in the Arab street, as opposed to someone like Egypt’s Husni Mubarak, who was seen as selling out the Palestinians and a lackey of US and Israeli imperialism.

Finally, although I am not as convinced as I was a couple of weeks ago of this, generally speaking, the military and security services are more tied to the fate of the regime than their counterparts in some other Arab states; therefore, they are more likely to stay with Bashar. On the other hand, if Bashar makes the concessions I believe he needs to make, there could be interesting ripples in various pockets of the military and especially the mukhabarat that might cause him problems. This could also be why he took so long to go public. He was making sure the ducks were lined up in a row before doing so. This could also be why his speech came up well short of expectations in terms of outlining reforms with any specificity.

Patrick Seale (Q #3). Syria’s nationalist stance—its support for Hizballah and Hamas, its opposition to Israel and the US—is essentially what makes it different from Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen or Bahrain. This is a source of pride for many Syrians and has given the country some immunity from popular protest. But, as we have seen, it is wearing thin.

Unlike Egypt and Tunisia, which are more homogeneous societies, Syria is a mosaic of sects, similar to Lebanon if not quite so diverse. This makes for divisions in society, for different social habits, cultural norms and also different loyalties. Hence a permanent sense that the delicate balance could be overturned.

[See Part 1 here, and Part 2 here.]

Comments (41)

nafdik said:

The major difference between Syria and Egypt, Tunisia and Libya is the alignement of the armed forces with the regime.

In all cases it was the reaction of the army to the events that dictated the course of the revolution.

– Tunisia: army early refusal to support the regime resulted in quick success of revolution

– Egypt: army was restrained but trying early on to support Mubarak resulted in a long revolution

– Libya: army split resulting in civil war

In Syria it seems that the army is 100% in support of the dictator. This gives very little hope of early success.

All the talk of mouamara (conspiracy) indicates the regime is prepared to commit massacres before moving 1 inch. Will the army refuse? Will the regime use the security services for this? Will the army stand idle?

April 3rd, 2011, 8:01 am


Opal said:

In Damascus at least, mobile phones and internet are down today and were out or slow much of yesterday, but I can’t find any media coverage of this.

April 3rd, 2011, 8:51 am


Sophia said:

Frank Al Irlandi,

Nobody knows if the Saudi/US plan published by Cham Press is real but the fact that it was published by Cham press is significant. It means that hostilities are in the open and that the Assad regime will fight on all fronts.

However, the plan seems to have the imprimatur of Feltman or the people who invented it know Feltman very well. They are also drawing on what happened in Lebanon. But while this kind of plan can work in other Arab countries, it cannot work in Syria and a similar one did not work in Lebanon despite SA having there a Saudi national, who kisses the shoulders of the Saudi king, as Lebanon’s PM.

I am more inclined to interpret what is happening and what can happen in Syria, not only in terms of what is happening in the Arab world in general, but also in terms of what is happening now in Lebanon where the Saudi/US plan have miserably failed.

April 3rd, 2011, 9:21 am


majedkhaldoon said:

While there are differences ,the similarirties with egyptian and Yemeni and Tunisian revolutions are much more striking ,it is the revolution of freedom ,staged by young generation who are asking for freedom jobs and they want to share in decisions making, they are armed by the spreading knowledge they acquired by the internet and mobile phones.
I am sure that patriotism is more important than idiology,and I do not believe that christians young men are different from musslem young men.
This revolution started and will not stop till either they win, or they are destroyed by severe oppression and supression,most such revolutions succeed,if they fail it would be only temporary failure.

BTW there are some on SC are trying to deceive themselvs,they certainly will not be able to deceive us.

The regime maneuvers are cosmetic and nothing more than promises,syrian people are tired of promisses,demonstrations will continue for a month but the future is for us.

April 3rd, 2011, 9:44 am


Sourieh said:

I believe Syria is different from the other mentioned arab countries in the sense that Bashar is a relatively “new” dictator, despite the fact that his father preceeded him.

Linking this to theory of relative deprivation, Syria under Bashar has indeed improved economically, I am not whether I can claim other areas to have improved though. Thus this is supposed to make the people less eager to revolt. People actually had faith in him, he renewed the face of the country while keeping the ideologies and policies whether internal or external. Simply put the people chose to “wait and see” for some time. But eleven years was enough to have achieved more than disputable economic improvements.

If we were to take this from a class struggle perspective, then we could also think that it is the underpriviledged population of Syria that are protesting against the 40 year old corruption and repression of the self-made elite who are the Alawites in power.

A third probable explanation would be that Syria, at the end of the day, is not immune to the “wave of protests” of the region. this wave originated from the results of modernization which the regimes were not able to follow nor adapt to it.

In the meanwhile, increased repression and arrests could either push the overthrow several years, or it could antagonize the people further leading them to really “revolt”, in a destructive and dangerous way.

April 3rd, 2011, 10:53 am


Walid murae said:

Champress is a tool in the hands of the regime. It is a waste of time trying to find any useful information on that website,I use it to learn how the mukhabarat thinks,assuming that they actually think. The editor of that site,Ali jamalo,is not a journalist,he is a clown.
So far,only minor changes are taking place in Syria because most Syrians still accept keeping Bashar in power and do not want another failed state like Iraq,and people like Rami and his likes are taking advantage of this situation.Bashar’s support among Syrians is definitely suffering, he is now seen as taking the side of hardliners instead of the youth. For the long term,there is no way the Ba’ath can continue to dominate political life,and it is very likely that the leaders of corruption,from all sects,will keep a low profile and take their money outside Syria.Asad failed to please the youth but many are hopeful that he will move faster on reform. Syria will never be the same.

April 3rd, 2011, 11:01 am


why-discuss said:

Maybe Bashar al Assad is looking at the successful Chinese model of an autoritarian regime and a booming economy. According to this article it seems to satisfy most Chinese. Maybe democracy is not a panacea for all countries after all.


April 3rd, 2011, 2:39 pm


Norman said:

Syria is different from the other Arab countries of Egypt, Tunisia that Syria had the Baath party that established the Army, while in Egypt and Tunisia the army established the political party so in Egypt and Tunisia the army rules by the made up political parties while in Syria the political party , Baath, rules through the army and the security services, so the army in Syria is an ideological army that protect the Baath party and the country, The Baath party and the army saw what happened in Iraq after the fall of Baghdad and Saddam, The Baath party and the army were made outlaws, so in Syria they know that their future is together, another difference is that President Assad has strong political capital in the Arab street because of his Arab nationalism and his stand for Arab rights, so when he claims that there is a conspiracy from the West against Syria because of her positions on Iraq, Palestine, the Arab street tends to believe him,
It looks to ma the the Baath party has reached a conclusion that the goal of the opposition is not reform but the demise of the Baath party and probably a Sunni, Shia civil war as a first salvo against Iran to decrease her influence with Arab street that admire Iran more than KSA,Things are more complicated than just ending emergency law and political party system .

The fear i have that no matter what the new anti terrorism law says it will be considered as a continuation of the state of Emergency under a different name , The way to face that is by clearly translating the American Patriot act and giving the same name so at least we can have the American on our side so they can not say that Syria is doing nothing to reform .

I say it again translate American laws, forget that the laws have to be local do not try to reinvent the wheel, use what works in the US including Demonstration laws, ((JUT ALL OF THEM,)),

stop being slackers,

This an urgent call.

April 3rd, 2011, 2:45 pm


Norman said:


That is exactly what Syria is trying to do , improve the lives of the people so Syria can have a middle class and making people vote for the people who are better not for the people with the same belief or ethnicity , The goal of the opposition is to tear Syria not to establish reform and the Syrian Government figured that.

April 3rd, 2011, 2:50 pm


Syrian Hamster said:

Western observers sounding knowledgeable and authoretative discuss sectarianism in Syria, spiced up with nice details like the names of a couple of christian sects and their affluent neighborhood. Where are the syrian analysts?

The question is wrong and deceiptive. Why? because the answer is a self evident YES and it is already known to every one. No two countries are the same. Egypt and Tunisia were not the same. All distinguished analaysts added next to zero to what every one already knows. And this is not the first time they fail. First they argued that Syria is shielded from the wave becasuse of the trio of ethnic and sectarian composition, the regim monopoly of instrument of violence, and the love of the poeple for the head of that regime becasue of its nationalistic stance. But then it turned that there is no absolute sheild, and these factors can not stop the wave from reaching the syrian shores. So the count is now one failure in one critical moment. They failed to understand the people of Syria.

The second failure was in that their intimate knowledge of the regime and relationship with Bashar Assad himself faild them. They could not make accurate a prediction of Bashar’s reaction. What is the value of all the studies, is it to archive history? But political analysts are supposed to make predictions that can help policy makers abd public alike. The experts indicated that they were disappointed as if there is any real hope that the Assad dynasty will be willing to move a single inch towards true reforms. Their collective hope is their collective failure. But that is also the failure of almost everyone. Except the neocons who hate Bashar so much and their success does not count because hate is not ground also for making accurate predictions.

I think most were duped and exagurated western educated young leader image. Any arab who spent more than 5 years in the west would tell you that it took more than two years spent in a teaching hospital to really appreciate democracy and its working. Most are impressed with the material wealth of the state, the services, and the politness of law enforcement. Most new commers also talk more about the disfunctions of the west and use it as coping mechanism. Two years are hardly enough to become a reformer, but they are more than enough to buy into banking, clean streets, and neatly clothed police, especially if you are a member of a royal family.

So now, let them have a second jadalyya round table. Please tell us how long will the Assad dynasty last. Tell us and others what are the critical moments in the future of the dynasty. Assume that I am a part owner of a print shop and your answer will help me and my partners prepare for priniting newspapers and community news letters, or focus on improving color photo printing. It seems that there is need for photos that can resist being placed on the ground and subjected to endless kissing and licking.

April 3rd, 2011, 3:12 pm


why-discuss said:


The key issue will be to rein and control the abuses of the mokhabarat. During all these years they have got used to have power and went certainly overboard. A more transparent and well paid police is a much better approach. Of course there should be some local MI5 around.
Compared to Lebanon, in Syria, you rarely see a police man in uniform except for traffic, this should change. During the demonstrations in Oxford street, the police were impressively dressed with helmet and green uniforms. They must be visible and impressive to deter malevolent attacks and represent properly law and order. The mokhabarat are of another age. It is time for more transparency.
The question would be what resistance Bashar will get in transforming them.

April 3rd, 2011, 3:19 pm


NK said:

Norman, why-discuss

The thing is, in Chine you don’t have the rampant corruption you have in Syria. My information is that one risks the capital punishment if he was involved in a corruption charge in China. I also agree with WD’s statement about Mukhabarat.

Norman, note that the Patriot act is not a permanent law, it has an expiration date.

April 3rd, 2011, 3:35 pm


NAJIB said:

Steven Heydemann: I see very little evidence of learning in the behavior of the Syrian regime

Jesus, who is this guy ? . One would think this steven Heydemann was studying monkeys. What an inflated ego:

It is a priori for him that such evidence of learning can be detected and measured and accredited only by super learned and intelligent specimen like himself. What a joke.

As for Patrick Seale, he is a hired pen.
he wrote ‘Riad El-Solh And The Makers Of The Modern Middle East’ to suit and please the El-Solh family and the billionaire al-walid

April 3rd, 2011, 3:46 pm


Norman said:


The corruption index in China is 78, and in Syria 127 , same as Lebanon,
Yes Syria can do better and i put up few a couple of weeks ago a plan for that,
What is the expiration date for the Patriot act ?.

WD ,
I agree about the Mukhabarat .

April 3rd, 2011, 4:35 pm


SOURI said:

Syria is different.

The Syrian regime has defeated the insurgents. Demonstrations have been getting smaller and smaller, and today there was not a single demonstration in Syria.

The protests in Syria were very much regional in nature. They were fueled by local regional grievances (anger at the local governor, local sectarian tensions, etc.) What happened in Syria was not a general opposition movement. The media deliberately distorted what was happening, although we have noted out from the beginning that what was happening was very much isolated and regional in nature and was not a widespread opposition movement.

What happened was stirred by radical Islamists. The radical Islamists were planning weeks ahead to start an uprising in Syria. I was following their websites and everything happened during the uprising was mentioned in those websites weeks before it happened. They were talking about starting a revolution from Hauran and using Jordanian cell phones. It was all planned ahead. The uprising did not start because of the arrest of “school kids” like the media claimed. Those schools kids belong to the Wahhabi Abazid family, and this family was trying to ignite an uprising weeks before the kids were arrested. They were sending out those kids to spray on walls anti-Bashar slogans and calls for revolution, and after they spray a wall they would take a picture of it and upload it to Wahhabi websites.

The Syrian regime was able to isolate the protests and they did not spread all over Syria like the Wahhabis had planned. This proves the regime to be a strong regime. The regime has both a wide popular base and strong security apparatus. Wahhabis in most if Syria were unable to move because of the heavy hand of the regime. The regime managed to paralyze them. Also the regime manged to draw the non-radical Islamists to its side. I was surprised that nothing at all happened in Aleppo. I come from that city and I know that the Islamists have a heavy presence in it, and I know for sure that many of them despise the regime. The fact that the regime was able to neutralize them is impressive.

April 3rd, 2011, 4:37 pm


EIU said:

Re: Champress — points made by Walid Murae are spot on. The Bandar-Feltman dossier actually went up on the Champress site a couple of days before Bashar’s speech, giving a sneak preview into what the Doctor Leader was going to say on the subject of salafi conspiracies. The slightly odd aspect was that Champress was also highlighting the importance of the message of support that King Abdullah had given to Bashar. Champress took the lead in virulent anti-Saudi propaganda prior to the reconciliation in Jan 2009. It seems that Ali Jamalo hasn’t yet worked out whether the message is full-on anti-Saudi at the moment or keeping in with the Saudis because they are strongly anti-reform and could be useful as a source of cash to Syria when things get tight in the next few months.

April 3rd, 2011, 4:54 pm



To NK, Nafdik, Majhool, Majedkhaldoon, Shami, Trustquest, Leo, Revlon, Riad and all who share with them the hate of President Bashar Asad and avocating a Syrian government with an agenda controlled by sunni teachings.
Below is a link to an article about Khaled Mashaal’s call to Sheikh Karadawi, asking him for the love of God, to stop his attack on president Bashar Asad.
Mashaal stated that president Bashar took a risk in supporting Hamas while other sunni Arab leaders betrayed the Palestinian cause.
I am interested in your specific thoughts about Mashaal’s statement.


April 3rd, 2011, 5:30 pm


Revlon said:

#9 Norman,
You said: Syria had the Baath party that established the Army

Your statement underscores how much misinformed or underformed you are about modern Syrian history.
Such reflects negatively on the credability of many of your conclusions!

The Syrian Army, began to form after independance in 1946.
By the 1948, it had 2 brigades.
Compulsory conscription started in 1953. It is the date that marked the establishement of the first, professional army.

Its Generals over the following years destabilised the burgeonming democracy by a spat of coup d’ estat’s!
H Asad, and colleagues, were trained in that army.

The Baath party came to power in 1963.
Their contribution was to convert it into a brainless, and toothless, ideological surrogate!

H Asad came to power in 1973.
His contribution was to cleanse its leadership of non-3alawi elements!

April 3rd, 2011, 5:39 pm


Shami said:

Salah al din ,Mechaal is a politician and he is free to say whatever he likes.
His pro Bashar statement doesnt change the reality on the ground ,this regime can not remain as it’s ,the best it could ,is to avoid a violent end so it is necessary to make guenine and deep reforms which aim is to allow a peaceful change over ,the syrian people remain whereas the regimes change.
Also,the palestinian cause ,will not stop to exist after this regime’s end.

April 3rd, 2011, 6:13 pm


SOURI said:

Bashar appointed today Adel Safar as the new head of the government. This man is from a village south of Damascus, so perhaps he was chosen to appease the people of rural southern Syria who represent most of those who protested.

This man has no history in economics at all. This is a good indicator, because it seems that Bashar is going to keep Dardari in the government. Dardari will do better when he works with a PM who does not interfere much in the economic reform process.

Basically, nothing is going to change substantially from the previous government. This is just a process of تبديل طرابيش. I read in a website that the new government may even accelerate the economic reform process.

April 3rd, 2011, 6:42 pm


NK said:


I’m not sure where you got the notion that we hate Bashar because we want a regime that follows Sunni teachings.

I don’t hate Bashar as a person, I hate him as the dictator of Syria, it has nothing to do with who he is or what religion he follows, it also has nothing to do with foreign policy or his support for Hizb Allah and the Palestinian resistance, it has everything to do with his policies and the way he’s running the country, it’s inefficient and it’s making Syria weaker and weaker every single day, he’s sponsoring corruption, not to mention the security forces transgressions against his own people.

By the way, wasn’t there a wikileaks document where Bashar called Hamas an “uninvited guest”, I would stop reading too much into what Mashaal says, what Qaradawi says or what anyother leader for that matters says or does not say. They’re all promoting their own agendas and their statements really reflect very little on what they truly think or want, it’s just a game of politics, the average Syrian doesn’t really care what anyone outside Syria thinks.
All that matters is what Syrians inside Syria say and do.

Oh, you do know that the Syria right now and for the past few decades had a Sunni constitution and follows the Sunni teachings, right ?

April 3rd, 2011, 6:49 pm


Off the Wall said:


While I can not dispute the date, I was under the impression that the nucleolus of the Syrian Army started under the French occupation. I understand that the French were more interested in building up Police force to assist them in running local affairs, but I know that some of the officers who led the Syrian Army were trained during the French Occupation. Anyone can shed light on this would be very much appreciated.

Also, wasn’t there a Syrian Army led by Youssef Alazem.

April 3rd, 2011, 7:33 pm


NK said:

One day people will stop laughing at us, and not hear of such charges like “النيل من هيبة الدولة”.

April 3rd, 2011, 8:28 pm


Norman said:

The Baath party started in 1940 not 1963 , members were in the Syrian army, H Assad came to power in 1970 not 1973 and he replaced Salah Jadid an Alawi, look at this,

Ba’ath PartyFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party
حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي
Leader Syria: Abdullah al-Ahmar and Bashar al-Assad
Iraq: Izzat Ibrahim ad-Douri
Founded 1940 (1940)
Headquarters Damascus (of the Syria-based party), and formerly Baghdad (of the former Iraq-based party)
Newspaper Al-Baath
Youth wing Revolution Youth Union
Ideology Arab nationalism
Arab socialism
Political position Syncretic, with some left-wing and far-right minority factions
International affiliation None
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This article is part of the series:
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v · d · e

The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party (also spelled Ba’th or Baath which means “resurrection” or “renaissance” (reddyah); Arabic: حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي‎) is a secularist political party, mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to what it sees as “Western imperialism” and calling for the “renaissance” or “resurrection” of the Arab World and its unity in one united state.[1] Its motto — “Unity, Liberty, Socialism” (wahda, hurriya, ishtirakiya) — refers to Arab unity, freedom from non-Arab control and interference. Its ideology of Arab socialism is notably separate in origins and practice from Marxism.

The party was founded in Damascus in 1947 by the Syrian intellectuals Michel Aflaq, and Salah al-Bitar, and since its inception has established branches in different Arab countries, although the only countries it has ever held power in are Syria and Iraq. In Syria it has had a monopoly on political power since the party’s 1963 coup. Ba’athists also seized power in Iraq in 1963, but were deposed some months later. They returned to power in a 1968 coup and remained the sole party of government until the 2003 Iraq invasion. Since then they have been banned in Iraq.

In 1966 a coup d’état by the military against the historical leadership of Michel Aflaq and Salah Bitar led the Syrian and Iraqi parties to split into rival organizations — the Qotri (or Regionalist) Syria-based party and the Qawmi (or Nationalist) Iraq-based party.[2] Both Ba’ath parties retained the same name and maintained parallel structures in the Arab World, but became so antagonistic that the Syrian Ba’ath regime became the only Arab government to support non-Arab Iran against Iraq during the bloody Iran-Iraq War.

Contents [hide]
1 Underlying political philosophy
2 Structure
3 The Ba’ath in Syria, 1954–1963
4 The Ba’ath takes power in Syria and Iraq, 1963
5 Ideological transformation and division, 1963–1968
5.1 The party outside Syria
6 The Iraq-based Ba’ath Party
6.1 History
6.2 Post-Saddam
6.3 The party outside Iraq
7 References
8 Bibliography
9 Endnotes
10 External links

[edit] Underlying political philosophyThe motto of the Party—”Unity, Liberty, Socialism” (Arabic وحدة، حرية، اشتراكية)—was inspired by the French Jacobin political doctrine linking national unity and social equity,[3] Unity refers to Arab unity, or Pan-Arabism; liberty emphasizes being free from foreign control and interference (self-determination); and socialism refers to Arab socialism, rather than to European socialism or communism. The idea that the national freedom and glory of the Arab Nation had been destroyed by Ottoman, and Western imperialism was expounded on in Michel Aflaq’s works On the Way of Resurrection.

Arab nationalism had been influenced by 19th Century mainland European thinkers, notably conservative German philosophers such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte of the Königsberg University Kantian school.[4] and French “Positivists” such as Auguste Comte and professor Ernest Renan of the Collège de France in Paris.[5] Tellingly, Ba’ath party co-founders Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Bitar both studied at the Sorbonne in the early 1930s, at a time when Positivism was still the dominant ideology amongst France’s academic elite.

The “Kulturnation” concept of Johann Gottfried Herder and the Grimm Brothers had a certain impact. Kulturnation defines a nationality more by a common cultural tradition and popular folklore than by national, political or religious boundaries and was considered by some as being more suitable for the German, Arab or Ottoman and Turkic countries.

Germany was seen as an anti-colonial power and friend of the Arab world; cultural and economic exchange and infrastructure projects as the Baghdad Railway supported that impression. According to Paul Berman, one of the early Arab nationalist thinkers Sati’ al-Husri was influenced by Fichte, a German philosopher famous for his conception of the nation state and his influence on the German unification movement.

The Ba’ath party also had a significant number of Christian Arabs among its founding members. For them, most prominently Michel Aflaq, a resolutely nationalist and secular political framework was a suitable way to evade faith-based Islamic orientation and the minority status it would give non-Muslims and to get full acknowledgment as citizens. Also, during General Rashid Ali al-Gaylani’s short-lived anti-British military coup in 1941, Iraq-based Arab nationalists (Sunni Muslims as well as Chaldean Christians) asked the Nazi German government to support them against British colonial rule.

[edit] Structure This section does not cite any references or sources.
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The Ba’ath Party was created as a cell-based organization, with an emphasis on withstanding government repression and infiltration. Hierarchical lines of command ran from top to bottom, and members were forbidden to initiate contacts between groups on the same level of organization; all contacts had to pass through a higher command level. This made the party somewhat unwieldy, but helped prevent the formation of factions and cordoned off members from each other, making the party very difficult to infiltrate, as even members would not know the identity of many other Ba’athists. As the U.S. and its allies discovered in Iraq in 2003, the cell structure has also made the Party highly resilient as an armed resistance organization.

A peculiarity stemming from its Arab unity ideology is the fact that it has always been intended to operate on a pan-Arab level, joined together by a supreme National Command, which is to serve as a party leadership for branches throughout the Arab world.

From its lowest organizational level, the cell, to the highest, the National Command, the party is structured as follows:

The Party Cell or Circle, composed of three to seven members, constitutes the basic organisational unit of the Ba’ath Party. There are two sorts of Cells: Member Cells and Supporter Cells. The latter consist of candidate members, who are being gradually introduced into Party work without being allowed membership privileges or knowledge of the party apparatus; at the same time, they are expected to follow all orders passed down to them by the full member that acts as the contact for their Cell. This serves both to prevent infiltration and to train and screen Party cadres. Cells functioned at the neighborhood, workplace or village level, where members would meet to discuss and execute party directives introduced from above.
A Party Division comprises two to seven Cells, controlled by a Division Commander. Such Ba’athist groups occur throughout the bureaucracy and the military, where they function as the Party’s watchdog, an effective form of covert surveillance within a public administration.
A Party Section, which comprises two to five Divisions, functions at the level of a large city quarter, a town, or a rural district.
The Branch comes above the Sections; it comprises at least two sections, and operates at the provincial level and also, at least in Syria, with one Branch each in the country’s four universities.
The Regional Congress, which combines all the branches, was set up to elect the Regional Command as the core of the Party leadership and top decision-making mechanism, even if this later changed to an appointive procedure in Syria. A “Region” (quṭr), in Ba’athist parlance, is an Arab state, such as Syria or Iraq or Lebanon, reflecting the Party’s refusal to acknowledge them as nation-states.
The National Command of the Ba’ath Party ranked over the Regional Commands. Until the 1960s, it formed the highest policy-making and coordinating council for the Ba’ath movement throughout the Arab world at large in both theory and practice. However, from 1966, there has existed two rival National Commands for the Ba’ath Party, both largely ceremonial, after the Iraqi and Syrian Regional Commands entered into conflict and set up puppet National Commands in order to further their rival claims to represent the original party.
[edit] The Ba’ath in Syria, 1954–1963 This section does not cite any references or sources.
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Syrian politics took a dramatic turn in 1954 when the military regime of Adib al-Shishakli was overthrown and a democratic system restored. The Ba’ath, now a large and popular organisation, gained representation in the parliamentary elections that year. Ideologically-based organisations appealing to the intelligentsia, the petty bourgeoisie and the working class were gaining ground in Syria, threatening to displace the old parties that represented the notables and bourgeoisie. The Ba’ath was one of these new formations, but faced considerable competition from ideological enemies, notably the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP), which was intrinsically opposed to Arab nationalism and was portrayed by the Ba’ath as pro-Western, and the Syrian Communist Party (SCP), whose support for class struggle and internationalism was also anathema to the Ba’ath. In addition to the parliamentary level, all these parties as well as Islamists competed in street-level activity and sought to recruit support among the military.

The assassination of Ba’athist colonel Adnan al-Malki by a member of the SSNP allowed the Ba’ath and its allies to launch a crackdown on that party, thus eliminating one rival, but by the late 1950s, the Ba’ath itself was facing considerable problems, riven by factionalism and faced with ideological confusion among its base. The growth of the Communist Party was also a major threat. These considerations undoubtedly contributed to the party’s decision to support unification with Nasser’s Egypt in 1958, an extremely popular position in any case. In 1958, Syria merged with Egypt in the United Arab Republic. As political parties other than Nasser’s Arab Socialist Union were not permitted to operate, the Ba’th along with Syria’s other parties faced the choice of dissolution or suppression.

In August 1959, the Ba’ath Party held a congress which, in line with Aflaq’s views, approved of its liquidation into the Arab Socialist Union. This decision was not universally accepted in party ranks, however many dissented and the following year a fourth party congress was convened which reversed it.

Meanwhile, a small group of Syrian Ba’athist officers stationed in Egypt were observing with alarm the party’s poor position and the increasing fragility of the union. They decided to form a secret military committee: its initial members were Lieutenant-Colonel Muhammad ‘Umran, majors Salah Jadid and Ahmad al-Mir, and captains Hafiz al-Asad and ‘Abd al-Karim al-Jundi.

The merger was not a happy experience for Syria, and in 1961, a military coup in Damascus brought it to an end. Sixteen prominent politicians signed a statement supporting the coup, among them al-Hurani and al-Bitar (although the latter soon retracted his signature). The party was in crisis: the secession was extremely controversial among Syrians in general and most unpopular among the radical nationalists who formed the Ba’ath membership. A large section of the membership left in protest, setting up the Socialist Unity Vanguard and gaining considerable support. The leadership around Aflaq was bitterly contested for its timidity in opposing the separation. Al-Hawrani, now a determined opponent of reunification, left the Ba’ath and re-established his Arab Socialist Party.

Aflaq sought to reactivate the splintered party by calling a Fifth National Congress held in Homs in May 1962, from which both al-Hawrani’s supporters and the Socialist Unity Vanguard were excluded. A compromise was reached between the pro-Nasser elements and the more cautious leadership. The leadership line was reflected in the position the congress adopted in favour of “considered unity” as opposed to the demands for “immediate unity” launched by the Socialist Unity Vanguard (later the Socialist Unity Movement), the Nasserists and the Arab Nationalist Movement. Meanwhile the Syrian party’s secret Military Committee was also planning how to take power, having been granted considerable freedom of action by the civilian leadership in recognition of its need for secrecy.

[edit] The Ba’ath takes power in Syria and Iraq, 1963Main articles: 1963 Syrian coup d’état and February 1963 Iraqi coup d’état
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In February 1963, the Iraqi Ba’ath took power after violently overthrowing Abd al-Karim Qasim and quashing communist-led resistance.

That same year, the Syrian party’s military committee succeeded in persuading Nasserist and independent officers to make common cause with it, and they successfully carried out a military coup on 8 March. A National Revolutionary Command Council took control and assigned itself legislative power; it appointed Salah al-Din al-Bitar as head of a “national front” government. The Ba’ath participated in this government along with the Arab Nationalist Movement, the United Arab Front and the Socialist Unity Movement.

As historian Hanna Batatu notes, this took place without the fundamental disagreement over immediate or “considered” reunification having been resolved. The Ba’ath moved to consolidate its power within the new regime, purging Nasserist officers in April. Subsequent disturbances led to the fall of the al-Bitar government, and in the aftermath of Jasim Alwan’s failed Nasserist coup in July, the Ba’ath monopolized power.

[edit] Ideological transformation and division, 1963–1968See also: 1966 Syrian coup d’état
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The challenges of building a Ba’athist state led to considerable ideological discussion and internal struggle in the party. The Iraqi party was increasingly dominated by Ali Salih al-Sa’di, an unsophisticated thinker according to Batatu, who took a hardline leftist approach, declaring himself a Marxist. He gained support in this from Syrian regional secretary Hamoud el Choufi and from Yasin al-Hafiz, one of the party’s few ideological theorists. Some members of the secret military committee also sympathized with this line.

The far-left tendency gained control at the party’s Sixth National Congress of 1963, where hardliners from the dominant Syrian and Iraqi regional parties joined forces to impose a hard left line, calling for “socialist planning”, “collective farms run by peasants”, “workers’ democratic control of the means of production”, a party based on workers and peasants, and other demands reflecting a certain emulation of Soviet-style socialism. In a coded attack on Aflaq, the congress also condemned “ideological notability” within the party (Batatu, p. 1020). Aflaq, bitterly angry at this transformation of his party, retained a nominal leadership role, but the National Command as a whole came under the control of the radicals.

The volte-face was received with anger by elements in the Iraqi party, which suffered considerable internal division. The Nationalist Guard, a paramilitary unit which had been extremely effective, and extremely brutal, in suppressing opposition to the new regime, supported al-Sa’di, as did the Ba’athist Federation of Students, the Union of Workers, and most party members. Most of its members among the military officer corps was opposed, as was President Abd al-Salam ‘Arif. Coup and counter-coup ensued within the party, whose factions did not shrink from employing the military in settling their internal differences. This eventually allowed ‘Arif to take control and eliminate Ba’thist power in Iraq for the time being.

After disposing of its Nasserist rivals in 1963, the Ba’ath functioned as the only officially recognized Syrian political party, but factionalism and splintering within the party led to a succession of governments and new constitutions. On 23 February 1966, a bloody coup d’état led by left-wing extremists, a radical Ba’athist faction headed by Chief of Staff Salah Jadid, overthrew the Syrian Government. A late warning telegram of the coup d’état was sent from President Gamal Abdel Nasser to Nasim Al Safarjalani (The General Secretary of Presidential Council), on the early morning of the coup d’état. The coup sprung out of factional rivalry between Jadid’s “regionalist” (qutri) camp of the Ba’ath Party, which promoted ambitions for a Greater Syria and the more traditionally pan-Arab, in power faction, called the “nationalist” (qawmi) faction. Jadid’s supporters were also seen as more radically left-wing. Several Ba’ath leaders were sentenced to death in absentia by a special military court headed by later Syrian Defence Minister, Mustafa Tlass, and Interim Syrian President and Vice President of Syria Abdul Halim Khaddam, as prosecutor. Many managed to make their escape and flee to Beirut. The Ba’ath wing led by Salah Jadid took power, and set the party out on a more radical line. Although they had not been supporters of the victorious far-left line at the Sixth Party Congress, they had now moved to adopt its positions and displaced the more moderate wing in power, purging from the party its original founders, Aflaq and al-Bitar.

The Syrian Ba’ath and the Iraqi Ba’ath were by now two separate parties, each maintaining that it was the genuine party and electing a National Command to take charge of the party across the Arab world. However, in Syria, the Regional Command was the real centre of party power, and the membership of the National Command was a largely honorary position, often the destination of figures being eased out of the leadership.

At this juncture, the Syrian Ba’ath party split into two factions: the ‘progressive’ faction, led by President and Regional Secretary Nureddin al-Atassi gave priority to the radical Marxist-influenced line the Ba’ath was pursuing, but was closely linked to the security forces of Deputy Secretary Salah Jadid, the country’s strongman from 1966. This faction was strongly preoccupied with what it termed the “Socialist transformation” in Syria, ordering large-scale nationalization of economic assets and agrarian reform. It favored an equally radical approach in external affairs, and condemned “reactionary” Arab regimes while preaching “people’s war” against Israel; this led to Syria’s virtual isolation even within the Arab world. The other faction, which came to dominate the armed forces, was headed by Defense Minister Hafez al-Assad. He took a more pragmatic political line, viewing reconciliation with the conservative Arab states, notably Egypt and Saudi Arabia, as essential for Syria’s strategic position regardless of their political color. He also called for reversing some of the socialist economic measures and for allowing a limited role for non-Ba’athist political parties in state and society.

In early January 1965 the Syrian Ba’ath Party nationalized about a hundred companies, “many of them mere workshops, employing in all some 12,000 workers.” Conservative Damascus merchants closing their shops and “with the help of Muslim preachers, called out the populace” to protest against the expropriation. The regime fought back with the Ba’ath Party National Guard and “newly formed Workers’ Militia.” In retaliation for the uprising the state assumed new powers to appoint and dismiss Sunni Muslim Friday prayer-leaders and took over the administration of religious foundations (awqaf), “the main source of funds of the Muslim establishment.” [6]

Despite constant maneuvering and government changes, the two factions remained in an uneasy coalition of power. After the 1967 Six-Day War, tensions increased, and Assad’s faction strengthened its hold on the military; from late 1968, it began dismantling Salah Jadid’s support networks, facing ineffectual resistance from the civilian branch of the party that remained under his control. This duality of power persisted until November 1970, when, in another coup, Assad succeeded in ousting Atassi as prime minister and imprisoned both him and Jadid. He then set upon a project of rapid institution-building, reopening parliament and adopting a permanent constitution for the country, which had been ruled by military fiat or provisional constitutional documents since 1963. The Ba’ath Party was turned into a patronage network closely intertwined with the bureaucracy, and soon became virtually indistinguishable from the state, while membership numbers were increased to well over one million (reflecting both a conscious desire to turn the previous vanguard party into a regime-supporting mass organization, and the fact that party membership was now vital to advancement in many sectors). The party simultaneously lost its independence from the state, and was turned into a tool of the Assad regime, which remained based essentially in the security forces. Other socialist parties that accepted the basic orientation of the regime were permitted to operate again, and in 1972 the National Progressive Front was established as a coalition of these legal parties; however, they were only permitted to act as junior partners to the Ba’ath, with very little room for independent organization.

During the factional struggles of the 1960s, three breakout factions from the party had emerged. A pro-Nasser group split from the party at the breakup of union with Egypt in 1961, and later became the Socialist Unionists’ party. This group later splintered several times, but one branch of the movement was coopted by the Ba’ath into the National Progressive Front, and remains in existence as a very minor pro-regime organization. The far-left line of Yasin al-Hafiz, which had impressed Marxist influences on the party in 1963, broke off the following year to form what later became the Revolutionary Workers’ Party, while Jadid’s and Atassi’s wing of the organization reunited as the clandestine Arab Socialist Democratic Ba’ath Party. Both the latter organizations in 1979 joined an opposition coalition called the National Democratic Gathering.

Hafez al-Assad, one of the longest-ruling leaders of the modern Arab world, remained as president of Syria until his death in 2000, when his son Bashar al Assad succeeded him as President and as Regional and National Secretary of the party. Since then, the party has experienced an important generational shift, and a discreet ideological reorientation decreasing the emphasis on socialist planning in the economy, but no significant changes have taken place in its relation to the state and state power. It remains essentially a patronage and supervisory tool of the regime elite.

The Ba’ath today holds 134 of the 250 seats in the Syrian Parliament, a figure which is dictated by election regulations rather than by voting patterns, and the Syrian Constitution stipulates that it is “the leading party of society and state”, granting it a legally enforced monopoly on real political power.

[edit] The party outside Syria This section does not cite any references or sources.
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Through its Damascus-based National Command, the Syrian Ba’th Party has branches in Lebanon, Yemen, Egypt, Sudan, Iraq (currently split into two factions),[citation needed] etc., although none of the non-Syrian branches have any major strength. Among the Palestinians, as-Sa’iqa, a member organization of the Palestine Liberation Organisation, is the Syrian Ba’ath party branch.

[edit] The Iraq-based Ba’ath PartyMain article: Ba’athist Iraq
[edit] History
Saddam Hussein and the Ba’ath Party student cell, Cairo, in the period 1959-63.In Iraq, the Ba’ath party remained a civilian group and lacked strong support within the military. The party had little impact, and the movement split into several factions after 1958 and again in 1966. The movement was reported to have lacked strong popular support,[7] but through the construction of a strong party apparatus the party succeeded in gaining power.

The Ba’athists first came to power in the coup of February 1963, when Abd al-Salam ‘Arif became president. Interference from the historic leadership around Aflaq and disputes between the moderates and extremists, culminating in an attempted coup by the latter in November 1963, served to discredit the party. After Arif’s takeover in November 1963, the moderate military Ba’athist officers initially retained some influence but were gradually eased out of power over the following months.

In July 1968, a bloodless coup led by General Ahmad Hasan al-Bakr, Saddam Hussein and Salah Omar Al-Ali brought the Ba’ath Party back to power. In 1974 the Iraqi Ba’athists formed the National Progressive Front to broaden support for the government’s initiatives. Wranglings within the party continued, and the government periodically purged its dissident members. Emerging as a party strongman, Hussein eventually used his growing power to push al-Bakr aside in 1979 and ruled Iraq until 2003. Under Saddam’s tenure Iraq experienced its most dramatic and successful period of economic growth, with its citizens enjoying standards of health care, housing, instruction and salaries/stipends well comparable to those of European countries. Several major infrastructures were laid down to help with the country’s growth, although many had to be scaled down or abandoned as the costs of the Iran-Iraq War became heavier and heavier.

Author Fred Halliday writes about 1958-1979: Arab Nationalism confronting Imperial Iran, Ba’thist ideology, where, under the influence of al-Husri, Iran was presented as the age-old enemy of the Arabs. Al-Husri’s impact on the Iraqi education system was made during the period of the monarchy, but it was the Ba’thists, trained in that period and destined to take power later, who brought his ideas to their full, official and racist, culmination. For the Ba’thists their pan-Arab ideology was laced with anti-Persian racism, it rested on the pursuit of anti-Persian themes, over the decade and a half after coming to power, Baghdad organised the expulsion of Iraqis of Persian origin, beginning with 40,000 Fayli Kurds, but totalling up to 200,000 or more, by the early years of the war itself. Such racist policies were reinforced by ideology: in 1981, a year after the start of the Iran-Iraq war, Dar al-Hurriya, the government publishing house, issued “Three Whom God Should Not Have Created: Persians, Jews, and Flies”. by the author, Khairallah Talfah (Tulfah), the foster-father and father-in-law of Saddam Hussein. Halliday says that it was the Ba’thists too who, claiming to be the defenders of ‘Arabism’ on the eastern frontiers, brought to the fore the chauvinist myth of Persian migrants and communities in the Gulf.[8]

[edit] Post-SaddamSee also: De-Ba’athification
In June 2003, the Coalition Provisional Authority banned the Ba’ath party. Some criticize the additional step the CPA took—of banning all members of the top four tiers of the Ba’ath Party from the new government, as well as from public schools and colleges—as blocking too many experienced people from participation in the new government. Thousands were removed from their positions, including doctors, professors, school teachers, bureaucrats and more. Many teachers lost their jobs, causing protests and demonstrations at schools and universities. Under the previous rule of the Ba’ath party, one could not reach high positions in the government or in the schools without becoming a party member. In fact, party membership was a prerequisite for university admission. In other words, while many Ba’athists joined for ideological reasons, many more were members because it was a way to better their options. After much pressure by the US, the policy of de-Ba’athification was addressed by the Iraqi government in January, 2008 in the highly controversial “Accountability and Justice Act” which was supposed to ease the policy, but which many feared would actually lead to further dismissals.[9]

The new Constitution of Iraq approved by a referendum on October 15, 2005, reaffirmed the Ba’ath party ban, stating that:

“No entity or program, under any name, may adopt racism, terrorism, the calling of others infidels, ethnic cleansing, or incite, facilitate, glorify, promote, or justify thereto, especially the Saddamist Baath in Iraq and its symbols, regardless of the name that it adopts. This may not be part of the political pluralism in Iraq.”

On December 17, 2008, the New York Times reported that up to 35 officials in the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior ranking as high as general had been arrested over the three previous days accused of quietly working to reconstitute the Ba’ath Party.[10][11]

[edit] The party outside Iraq This section does not cite any references or sources.
Please help improve this article by adding citations to reliable sources. Unsourced material may be challenged and removed. (June 2010)

The Iraq-based Ba’ath Party had branches in various Arab countries, such as Lebanon, Mauritania and Jordan. After the fall of the Saddam government, some branches have distanced themselves from the central party, such as the branches in Yemen and Sudan.

In Lebanon, the party is led by former Sunni MP for Tripoli, Abdul-Majeed Al-Rafei.

In Yemen, the ‘Qawmi’/pro-Saddam branch of the Ba’ath party is led by Dr. Qasim Sallam (former MP for the district of Ta’izz), a US-educated philosopher author of “The Baath and the Arab homeland” (1980).

The party works amongst the Palestinians directly through the Arab Liberation Front (known as ALF or Jabhat al-Tahrir al-‘Arabiyah) founded by Zeid Heidar, and indirectly through the relatively small pro-Iraqi wing of Fatah formerly led by Khaled Yashruti. ALF formed the major Palestinian political faction in Iraq during the Saddam years. It is numerically small, but gained some prominence due to the support given to it by the Iraqi government. It is a member organization of PLO.

In Bahrain, Rasul al-Jeshy leads the local pro-Saddam faction of the Ba’ath Party, the secular Nationalist Democratic Rally Society (Jami’at al-Tajammu’ al-Qawmi al-Dimuqrati), which in an alliance with Shiite Islamists opposes the Bahrain government’s economic policies.

An Iraq-oriented Ba’ath Party branch led by exiled Ba’ath party co-founder Salah ad-Din al-Bitar and Gen. Amin Hafiz formerly existed in Syria, which the Syrian government severely repressed.

[edit] References Wikimedia Commons has media related to: Ba’athism
^ The Baath Arab Socialist Party National Leadership
^ van Dam, Nikolaos (1979). “The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics”. I B Tauris.
^ Hamel, Ernest (1859). “Histoire de Saint-Just Député de la Convention Nationale”. Impr. et Librairie Poulet-Malassis et Broise.
^ Germany and the Middle East 1871-1945, ed. Schwanitz, Wolfgang G., Frankfurt, Vervuert Verlag 2004 ISBN 3-86527-157-X
^ Hazem Zaki Nuseibeh, The Ideas of Arab Nationalism, p. 76; Youssef M. Choueiri, Arab Nationalism: A History: Nation and State in the Arab World, p. 123
^ Seale, Patrick, Asad, the Struggle for the Middle East, University of California Press, 1989, p.97
^ The Economist, London, 24–30 June 1978, p. 78.
^ Nation and religion in the Middle East‎, Fred Halliday, pp 117-118
^ Paley, Amit R.; Joshua Partlow (2008-01-23). “Iraq’s New Law on Ex-Baathists Could Bring Another Purge”. Washington Post. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/01/22/AR2008012203538.html. Retrieved 2009-04-27.
^ Usher, Sebastian (2008-01-12). “Baathist mistake corrected amid concern”. BBC News. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7185276.stm. Retrieved 2008-01-12.
^ “Rice in surprise Iraq visit”. Al Jazeera. 2008-01-15. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/C213A2C9-5926-4599-86EE-426482AF4C18.htm.
[edit] BibliographyThe Old Social Classes and New Revolutionary Movements of Iraq, Hanna Batatu, London, al-Saqi Books, 2000. ISBN 0-86356-520-4
Al-Baath wa-Lubnân [Arabic only] (“The Baath and Lebanon”), NY Firzli, Beirut, Dar-al-Tali’a Books, 1973
The Iraq-Iran Conflict, NY Firzli, Paris, EMA, 1981. ISBN 2-86584-002-6
Al-Baath wal Watan Al-Arabi [Arabic, with French translation] (“The Baath and the Arab Homeland”), Qasim Sallam, Paris, EMA, 1980. ISBN 2-86584-003-4
The Struggle for Power in Syria: Sectarianism, Regionalism and Tribalism in Politics, Nikolaos van Dam, London I B Tauris, 1979.
History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine, Vol. 2 Hitti Philip K. (2002) (ISBN 1-931956-61-8)
[edit] EndnotesYemeni govt. sues Baath party Chairman Qasim Sallam for article critical of Saudi Arabia (US Department of State Report on Human Rights Practices/Feb 2001)
[edit] External linksThe five volumes of Michel Aflaq’s “On The Way Of Resurrection” (Fi Sabil al Ba’th) (Arabic)
The (Iraqi) Baath party web site. It also include a section about the defence committee of Saddam Hussain (Arabic)
Brief Syrian-focused official description
Death of the dragon – from a bitter opponent of the Ba’ath
The Constitution of the Arab Socialist Ba’th Party
Syrian wing of the Ba’th Party (Arabic)
Syrian wing of the Ba’th Party (English)
Sudanese Ba’th Party (Arabic)
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April 3rd, 2011, 9:13 pm


SOURI said:

Wahhabism in post-Mubarak Egypt:


السلفيون ينشطون
في المجتمع المصري

وإلى أصحابنا السلفيين، الذين قفزوا على المشهد السياسي لخطف الثورة، ومحاولة فرض إرادتهم وقوانينهم على المجتمع والدولة، مرة من خلال اعتبار نتيجة الاستفتاء على التعديلات الدستورية بنعم، اختيار للإسلام ضد أهل الكفر – والعياذ بالله – وتسميتها بغزوة الصناديق، ومرة أخرى بتطبيقهم الحدود على من يريدون، ثم هدم الأضرحة.
وقد قالت عنهم المستشارة نهى الزيني في حديث لها يوم الأربعاء مع زميلتنا أمل فوزي في ملحق شباب التحرير: ‘التيار السلفي هو أكثر التيارات انتشارا الآن في الشارع وهو موجود بقوة حتى في الجامعات بما فيها الجامعة الأمريكية، وكان موجودا بكثافة في ميدان التحرير ولكن أحب أو أؤكد أن التيار السلفي ليس لونا واحدا وإنما لديه درجات من أقصى اليمين إلى اليسار وليس لهم تجربة سياسية ولن يكون وإعلانهم عن تدخلهم في السياسة لحماية المادة الثانية التي ينظرون إليها باعتبارها عنوانا للهوية، والذي حدث أن الإخوان استغلوا الحشد الذي قام به التيار السلفي لتأييد الناس لصالح نعم من أجل مصلحتهم الشخصية دون النظر للعواقب التي سيتعرض لها الشارع المصري من خلال تقسيمه إلى مسلمين ومسيحيين بعد أن كنا وصلنا إلى ما يشبه المدينة الفاضلة في ميدان التحرير من حيث شكل العلاقة بين كل التيارات وبين المسلمين والمسيحيين.
وانقسام الشارع خطيئة كبيرة تحسب على التيارات السلفية وعلى الإخوان بسبب تشجيع بعضهم على هذا الحشد كما أن نبرتهم كانت نبرة استعلائية وتبريرية، وكان لابد لهم من الخروج للتأكيد على ان نعم ليس لديها علاقة بالدين أو بالمادة الثانية التي صارت كاللغم والاقتراب منها غير مأمون وبالنسبة لي فأنا لدي قناعة أن هناك شيئين فقط لا يجوز الاقتراب منهما وهما كتاب الله وسنة الرسول ولا ينبغي إضافة القدسية على أي شيء بخلاف ذلك وكل شيء بشري مطروح للنقاش والمادة الثانية ليست منزلة من الله وليس من سنة رسوله ولكنها من سنة السادات رحمه الله’.

السلفيون رجحوا كفة الاستفتاء على الدستور

أيضا، نشرت مجلة ‘المصور’ مقالا لصديقنا الدكتور الشيخ ناجح إبراهيم من قيادات الجماعة الإسلامية أوضح فيه بعضا مما هو آت: ‘بعض دعاة السلفية قاموا بحشد الناس حشدا للتصويت بـ’نعم’ وخلطوا بين الدعوى والسياسة حينما قالوا إن الذهاب للاستفتاء واجب شرعي، وان ‘نعم’ تعني ‘نعم للإسلام وللشريعة الإسلامية’.
السلفيون: انتصرنا
في غزوة الصناديق

ثم كانت قمة الخطأ السياسي حينما قال أحدهم إننا ‘انتصرنا في غزوة الصناديق’ واعتبرها نصرا كنصر بدر، وأن من لا يعجبه من الأقباط فلديه تأشيرات كندا جاهزة، ويمكنه الرحيل من مصر.
ومشكلة بعض الإخوة السلفيين أنهم يفتقرون إلى الخبرة السياسية والإعلامية، فقد حاربوا طويلا نزول الإسلاميين إلى ميدان السياسة، وإذا بالثورة تفاجئهم بغتة وأن الحرية السياسية أصبحت مفتوحة ومكفولة للجميع، ودون حنكة سياسية أو خبرة إعلامية تعصمهم من الوقوع في هذه الأخطاء الفادحة، والفخاخ الإعلامية الكثيرة المنصوبة للجميع، فلم يفرقوا بين الدعوي والسياسي.
فالدعوي مطلق أما السياسي ففيه المتغيرات والأساليب والوسائل والآليات.
والسياسي يشمل ما يطلق عليه في أصول الفقه المصالح المرسلة أو ما تقاس فيه المصالح والمفاسد.
والسياسي الخلاف فيه خلاف تنوع لا تصادم فيه، ولا ضرر منه، بل هو مفيد ويثري الحياة، ويمكن أن تترك رأيك فيه لرأي مسيحي أو ليبرالي يكون خبيرا فيها، لأن معظمه من شؤون الحياة، ويمكنني أن أعلق على هذه الحادثة في عدة نقاط أولا: ليس هناك حد في الإسلام عبارة عن قطع الأذن، مع يقيني الكامل من مصادري اليقينية أن أنور متري معروف بسوء السلوك وممارسة الفاحشة.
ثانيا: أن الحدود في الإسلام مقصورة على الحاكم المسلم الذي يطبق الشريعة، ولا يجوز لاحد الناس أن يقوم بها، كما لا يجوز للحاكم نفسه أن يقوم بها من تلقاء نفسه إلا بعد مثول المتهم أمام القضاء الذي يستوفي جميع الإجراءات القضائية والقانونية للحكم عليه، ثم تقوم الشرطة بتنفيذ هذا الحد.
ثالثا: لو قام احد الأفراد بإقامة هذه الأحكام حتى في دولة الإسلام عوقب على جريمتين:
الأولى: جريمة العدوان على الآخرين بغير حق.
الثانية: جريمة الافتئات على السلطات واستلاب سلطات الحكام والقاضي والشرطة بغير حق.
ولو قامت بها مجموعة مسلحة بغير إذن الحاكم جاز للحاكم المسلم محاربتها بالقوة حتى تلتزم بعدم إنفاذها دون إذنها، وأخذت حكم البغاة في الفقه الإسلامي.
وقيام الأفراد بمثل هذه الأمور إنما هو نوع من الفوضى التي ترفضها الشريعة الغراء، ونوع من استلاب الجماعات والأفراد حق الحاكم والقضاة الأصيل في هذا الأمر.
رابعا: هذا الخلل كله جاء من عدم فهم خطاب القرآن، فالبعض يظن أن خطاب القرآن كله للكافة في الإيمان والعمل، ولكن خطاب القرآن يكون لكافة المسلمين في الإيمان به’.

April 3rd, 2011, 9:53 pm


Norman said:

Print Back to story

US hedges its bets on Syria: analysts
by Lachlan Carmichael Lachlan Carmichael
Sun Apr 3, 4:52 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Although the Assad regime in Syria has long been a thorn in Washington’s side, the Obama administration is not yet ready to throw its lot in with anti-government protesters there, analysts said.

The unrest gripping Syria comes as President Barack Obama pursues a new US policy of engaging with a former foe in a bid to promote a broader Arab-Israeli peace by driving a wedge between Syria and its ally Iran.

His administration may be hedging its bets because it will still have to deal with the regime if President Bashar al-Assad and his powerful security forces end up crushing the unrest.

Ammar Abdulhamid, a Washington-based Syrian dissident and democracy activist who has political contacts in Washington, said some US officials fear a change and prefer to work with Assad, at least for now.

“I think they will get there (to accept a change) in due course of time,” Abdulhamid told AFP.

“But for now… they are afraid that… Assad will not go out gently into that good night and therefore they might try to create trouble, and that will create a civil war type scenario.”

They fear it “will be either civil war or they will have to deal with an even more radicalized and anti-Western regime if the Assads came up in control again,” said Abdulhamid, who heads the Washington-based Tharwa Foundation.

However, the dissident said, such fears are misplaced because the Damascus regime can hardly become more radical than it is with its close ties to Iran and its support for anti-Israeli Hezbollah and Hamas.

Abdulhamid nonetheless welcomed the Obama administration’s decision to avoid showing undue fear that Islamists would emerge from the protest movement and assume power in Syria.

But Middle East analyst Marina Ottaway said such a threat may exist even though the Muslim Brotherhood was crushed after it was massacred in Hama in 1982 on the orders of Bashar’s ruthless father Hafez al-Assad.

“Has it gone underground, how quickly can it be revived, how much sympathy is there still for the Muslim Brotherhood? I have no idea and I don’t think anybody else has an idea on that,” she said.

The Obama administration is struggling to come up with a policy “case by case, country by country,” said Ottaway, who heads the Middle East program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.

“You cannot say that because the US in the end decided against (former Egyptian president Hosni) Mubarak and (went) on the side of the protesters in Egypt, that it’s going to do the same thing in Syria,” she said.

Ottaway said US officials have more difficulty understanding the protesters and their movement in Syria because there has been a “greater void of political activity” and deeper repression there than in a country like Egypt.

The protests pose a problem for the Obama administration — which she noted is trying to improve ties with Syria to advance US policy — as it will have to assess whether the protest movement will succeed or be crushed.

“If this is something the Syrian government is going to repress quickly, then a policy of trying to find a way to work with the Syrian regime makes sense,” Ottaway said.

“If the protest (movement) is going to continue, and has real potential of bringing about change, then the US had better learn to work with the protesters.”

A senior European diplomat based in Washington said Western powers were concerned about what may replace the Assad regime.

“More than in Libya, you have some extremist networks, connections with Iran, Hezbollah,” the diplomat told reporters on the customary condition of anonymity.

“If it is to have Assad out and a pro-Iranian regime in, that would not be the goal. It’s not an easy task to do for us. On the future of Syria, we are close to our American friends.”

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April 3rd, 2011, 10:06 pm


jad said:

These interviews aired on the government TV channel.
Please check all of them. Only 2-3 people out of almost 20 asked for vague political freedom because they have some relative were taken by security and almost all of them were talking about poverty, corruption, mismanagement and the inexistent of any kind of planning, Interesting enough, the state of emergency is the LAST thing on their minds:


Very interesting to hear what real Syrians are talking about.

April 3rd, 2011, 10:29 pm


NK said:


Thanks for the videos. We have to assume that those videos were edited and not everything that was said was aired, they touched on a lot of issues though, which is pretty good and quite refreshing for a Syrian TV channel.

Notice that they aired each problem once, so I assume they aired enough interviews to cover all the problems while avoiding airing those that say the same thing, we heard one guy complaining about emergency law and anther one complaining about security forces abuse, and in general a lot of complaining about corruption. Those are all emergency law complaints by proxy.

I don’t know Duma but looks like they’re mostly poor and people who live day by day (cap drivers, farmers and craftsmen), they didn’t look like university graduates or intellectuals, and so if you notice their demands are superficial, they want to end the corruption at their local city hall. They want subsidies back. Those kind of reforms will only calm things down for awhile, they are not real solutions, not to mention bringing back subsidies will have disastrous implications on the economy.

Anyways, it’ll be interesting if we saw interviews with the Syrian elites, those who are really well educated and have more serious demands. Orient is interviewing a lot of those and while the channel is not exactly professional in the way they conduct these interviews, the people they interview have a lot to say, they are also Syrians living in Syria.

Here’s a comment on one of the Duma videos

طيب يا أهل دوما طالما هي المطالب ليش كل هاد ليش هالمظاهرة كلها اذا الشغلة مشان مكرويات وباصات ولا مشان علف طيب مو حرام ناس تموت مان هيك اسباب

أنتو شايفين أنو كتير الوقت مناسب مشان هالمطالب

أميركا عم تقصف بالطيارات هلأ وقتكون و قت الباصات و القروض و البنوك؟؟؟؟؟

أناو أخي على ابن عمي و انا و ابن عمي عالغريب

كلنا ولاد هالبلد و كلنا عنا مطالب و مافي شي زابط بالبلد

بس هالتوقيت بالذات رح يعمل حرب مشان هالله طلعوا حواليكم!!!!!!

Fear mongering at it’s beast.

April 3rd, 2011, 11:38 pm


jad said:

لجنة قانون الطوارئ تنهي عملها قبل نهاية هذا الأسبوع

أكدت مصادر في اللجنة المكلفة دراسة رفع قانون الطوارئ أنها بصدد
الانتهاء من وضع التشريعات اللازمة تمهيداً لرفع قانون الطوارئ ورجحت المصادر أن تنتهي اللجنة من عملها قبل يوم الجمعة المقبل.
وأكدت المصادر ما سبق أن نشرناه يوم أمس أن اللجنة اعتمدت في التشريعات الجديدة على تجربة وتشريعات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وبريطانيا وفرنسا في قوانين الحفاظ على أمن المواطن والوطن وأنها اعتمدت على معادلة بسيطة تضمن كرامة كل المواطنين السوريين وتحفظ أمنهم في آن واحد. وأضافت المصادر أن ما توصلت إليه اللجنة سيتم إعلانه رسمياً قبل إقراره وسيخضع للنقاش العام وأن اللجنة ستستمع إلى كل الآراء قبل أن ترفع مشاريع القوانين للحكومة لإقرارها.
من جهة ثانية علمت «الوطن» أن لجنة التحقيق في أحداث درعا واللاذقية ماضية في عملها وبشكل سريع أيضاً وأنها استمعت إلى الكثير من الشهادات وتستكمل عملها وستحدد مهلة نهاية عملها في وقت قريب بعد أن تكون حصلت على كل الإثباتات والقرائن.


“ويسود انطباع أن تكون الحكومة التي من المزمع أن يشكلها سفر بعد مشاورات غير ملزمة مع أحزاب الجبهة تبدأ اليوم، حكومة انتقالية يقع على عاتقها تنفيذ الإجراءات الإصلاحية التي من المتوقع صدورها خلال الفترة القريبة، وصولاً إلى إصدار قانون جديد للأحزاب يفتح الباب أمام انتخابات بطريقة مختلفة لمجلس الشعب.”

The new government is for a transition period.

“مع احتمال ابتعاد الفريق الاقتصادي الذي كان يقوده نائب رئيس الوزراء عبد اللـه الدردري”

Dear Ehsani, I guess I wont be going back to Damascus this Friday 😉


April 4th, 2011, 12:16 am


NK said:

What do they mean by “انتخابات بطريقة مختلفة لمجلس الشعب” new way to elect the Parliament ?
Do you think there’s any chance they’ll divide the seats among the different sects ? that’s a horrifying thought.

April 4th, 2011, 12:35 am


jad said:

I doubt it, I think they meant having different political parties and each one of them will have seats and representatives in both the parliament and the government (That is my own logical interpretation but we both know how logic work in Syria).

April 4th, 2011, 1:13 am


Leo said:

Salah Addin @ 18,

I do not know how you assumed that I advocated a “Syrian government with an agenda controlled by sunni teachings.” Maybe it’s a predisposition by the regime loyalists to assume anyone opposing this totalitarian regime must be an Islamist. Sorry to shatter your prejudice, but I am as far away from religiously laced political ideologies as I am from the regime.

As for Khaled Meshaal’s advice to Qaradawi, let’s not forget that Meshaal’s and his party’s interest are closely tied to the regime. At the same time, I would not be surprised if the regime told Meshaal to tell Qaradawi to tone down his attacks on them, therefore, it’s a matter of mutual interest.

If you actually think that I look up to these people with high esteem, then you are totally wrong. It’s quite the contrary.

NK @ 34,

I highly doubt it. I would assume they mean getting rid or at least altering the quotation of seats given to the Baath Party and/or to Labor/Peasants. There is a 50% quotation of seats dedicated to the Baath Party and 50% to Labor/Peasants, without being mutually exclusive.

April 4th, 2011, 2:50 am


Leo said:


I forgot to add that there is also a quota of 167 out of 250 deputies reserved for the National Progressive Front. This gives the NPF a 2/3 super-majority needed to pass any constitutional amendment needed for the president without much deliberation.


April 4th, 2011, 3:06 am


why-discuss said:

When arresting and killing trouble makers may be called repression..

That is the ambiguity trouble makers play on. Unless obvious, media don’t make any differences between a peaceful demonstrator and a trouble maker (thugs, baltaji, ‘casseurs’). They also make no difference between the one who complains about his inability to get a building permit, the one who wants to have his daughter to wear a full hejab at school and the one who rejects the censorship of Facebook and Youtube and other websites and wants to express himself in blogs freely.
Discontent is in every country. The problem in Syria is that the petty ones cannot be expressed freely and would then use any opportunity to manifest. Therefor they get amalgamated with real demands and subversives ones..
One of the solution is to open a channel of complaints, an omnbusmand in each city or region, a group of responsible and elected people, well paid, non corruptible who will hear these complaints and pass them on to a higher levels. This will avoid e mass demonstrations that always end up with blood and that attracts thugs and hateful elements.
This transparency is a way to diffuse tensions through dialogs and to hamper any conspiracy that aim to create confusion and blood shed.
In Europe and the US there are red lines that are punished by the law: the holocaust denial and hate crimes
In Syria similar red lines should be setup and punished by the law when anyone makes public attacks on religions or people on the base of their religion.

A significant observation about the reliablity of numbers in the media:
In today Orient-le Jour( Lebanese french newspapers) on the title on the first page they report ‘Around fifty thousands syrians demonstrated at funerals in Deraa’. On page two of the same article ” Around ten thousands syrians demonstrated at funeral in Deraa…
It really dropped from page 1 to page 2!

April 4th, 2011, 3:06 am


NK said:


I agree with the need of red-lines, at least til people become more mature and accustomed to their new found freedoms.

The ombudsmen however will become corrupt sooner or later, it’s inevitable, and they’re really not needed, all we need is free media and they will bring all these problems to the surface.

What do you guys think of this … instability, corruption, or something else


The Syrian mobile auction is getting less and less bidders
(Dp-News agencies)

Syria’s upcoming mobile license auction looks set to be a two-horse race, following the withdrawal of a number of the prequalified bidders.
The auction for a third mobile network operating license in Syria is set to begin next month with a minimum reserve of EUR90 million (USD122.2 million)

France Telecom became the latest to pull out of the contest on Friday, just hours after Turkcell revealed that it had decided not to submit a final bid for the license without giving any reasons. Earlier in the week, Etisalat also said it would not bid, because of the condition that the winner pay a 25% revenue share to the government.

“Following evaluation of the current tender conditions, Turkcell has decided not to bid for the third mobile license tender held by the Syrian Arab Republic,” Turkcell said in a short statement.

“We [had] hoped that the terms and conditions for the license would have been more attractive,” the company said.
France Telecom also blamed the T&Cs of the license. The decision to withdraw “is not linked to events in Syria but the conditions of the license,” the French incumbent told the Financial Times on Friday.

That leaves Qatari incumbent Qtel and Saudi Telecom Company (STC) to slug it out to acquire the rights to become Syria’s third mobile operator. Qtel recently said it was committed to pursuing the Syrian opportunity, while there has been no comment from STC.
Bids for the license are due later this month.

April 4th, 2011, 3:37 am


why-discuss said:


I doubt any media is free anywhere! In the US and Europe they belong mostly to oligarchies that are biased. Between the possible corruption of the ombusmand and the money-based medias, I wonder if elected ombusmand are not a better choices.
In addition an ombusmand communication is a dialog, media is mostly one way and could be brainwashing. the important is to have channel of communications open with the people.

UPDATE 1-Saudi Telecom submits Syria mobile licence offer


April 4th, 2011, 6:48 am


Revlon said:

The regime will be introducing a modern version of the Emergency laws.
أن اللجنة اعتمدت في التشريعات الجديدة على تجربة وتشريعات الولايات المتحدة الأميركية وبريطانيا وفرنسا في قوانين الحفاظ على أمن المواطن والوطن وأنها اعتمدت على معادلة بسيطة تضمن كرامة كل المواطنين السوريين وتحفظ أمنهم في آن واحد

A system that fires on demonstrators, can not introduce laws that allows it!
A system with such a fragile national sentiment, can not allow people to speak up their mind
A system that measures national greatness by regional and international political conquests will not allow citizens to disturb their GRAND NATIONAL PLANS
A system with a security apparatus of over 50,000 to 100,000 employees will not be asking them to go home!
They will be rehabilitated to achieve the same objective, stifling the freedom of speech and choice, through more discrete, yet as evil methods.

The title, and certain clauses are chosen to meet known, old demands made by the US. In return the US will soften its stance on Jr.s violent crack down on demonstrators

The phrasing will look harmless, yet vague enough to encompass all of the powers of the infamous emergency laws!

This revolution will accept only Civil laws, in lieu of the annulled emergency laws!

The US need antiterrorism laws. They are a target for attacks by foreign groups, objecting to their policies!

Syrian people have no foreign enemies. Therefore, they do not need US style or any style anti-terrorism laws!

The Syrian regime has enemies: They are the Syrian people demanding freedom and radical reforms!
The regime, badly needs anti-terrorism laws, to legalise its state terrorism on its own people.
It will use it to persecute its own people, in Syria in the name of protecting the security of the nation
It will use it to persecute its own people, overseas, through fabricated charges implicating them with terrorism!

April 4th, 2011, 8:42 am


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