Since it has been looking as though someone will be going into Syria soon; and even if it isn’t us, or even if no country formally ‘goes in’, there are still currently a load of civilians protesting and being shot at with artillery by the Syrian government, various “terrorist” organizations ( or “liberators” if you are on the side of Iran…) such as Hammas and Hezbollah have been running guns into Syria; it looks like come “background” is in order.
What I already know is that the Ba’ath party was the same party as Saddan Hussein in Iraq. While the two countries occasionally “had issues” they were more in agreement than not. During the Iraq War ( I think it was the 2nd one…) there was a suspicious convoy of army trucks that bugged out to Syria at one point. Speculation has been that they contained some of the Weapons Of Mass Destruction materials that turned up missing after Baby Bush won…
Remember that we KNOW Iraq had WMD prior to the war as they were busy gassing their own Kurdish population and the definition of WMD is Chemical, Nuclear, Biological weapons. As to ‘if their WMD program included nuclear and / or biologicals’, that is less clear. But the bottom line is that Iraq shipped a load of stuff to Syria for “safe keeping”. That’s someone who’s more a soul mate than an enemy. Perhaps now we’ll find out what that was: Chemicals? Bug vials (as we know they ordered some from the USA and we cheerily shipped it over…) Or perhaps some centrifuge plans? Or maybe just a few dozen favorite wifes and a truck of gold for their maintenance. Who knows…. But back to Syria.
All through ancient history there are records of Assyria and Mesopotamia and Sumer and Babylon “going at it”. Some times they are one country. Sometimes two. And the name keeps changing. Occasionally parts of somebody or other’s empire. These folks have “history” together that goes back to about 4000 BC (that we know of…) So they’ve fought from time to time, and been fellow countrymen from time to time. Right now they are more like two cousins each dealing with a house fire and some bratty kids hanging around the house (some theirs, some the neighbors) and the guy next door ( i.e. us…) looks like he’s called the police twice and is oiling up his “Deer Rifle”…
So, first off, some generic links for folks who just want to hit ‘the usual’ and move on.
The Wiki Links:
They have a half dozen so you can focus in on different bits. I’m mostly going to just list them and paste in a few general bits about them:
The Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party (Arabic: حزب البعث العربي الاشتراكي Hizb Al-Ba’ath Al-‘Arabi Al-Ishtiraki) was a ba’athist political party mixing Arab nationalist and Arab socialist interests, opposed to Western imperialism, and calling for the renaissance or resurrection and unification of the Arab world into a single state. Ba’ath is also spelled Ba’th or Baath and means “rebirth,” “resurrection,” “restoration,” or “renaissance” (reddyah). Its motto—”Unity, Liberty, Socialism” (wahda, hurriya, ishtirakiya)—refers to Arab unity, and freedom from non-Arab control and interference.
A very key point to recognize here. TWO BIG MARKERS: “Nationalist” and “Socialist”.
Folks will remember that the NAZI party is the National Socialist Workers Party. Whenever you see ‘nationalist’ and ‘socialist’ in the same name, it’s usually in some way an offshoot or admirer of The German Nazis. Eventually I think folks will catch on to that, but it may take a while. So someday we may need to learn a couple of new ‘hot flags’, but for now those two keep on working.
Next notice the “restoration or renaissance” and “unification” goals. Those pretty much match the “Pan-Germanism” of the Nazis and yes, they have the same desire to “unify” others, want it or not…
The party was founded by the merger of the Arab Ba’ath Movement, led by Michel Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar, and the Arab Ba’ath, led by Zaki al-Arsuzi, on 7 April 1947 as the Arab Ba’ath Party. It has established branches in different Arab countries, although it has only ever held power in Syria and Iraq. In 1952 the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party was established by a merger of the Arab Socialist Party led by Akram al-Hawrani and the Arab Ba’ath Party. 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 the invasion the party has been banned in Iraq.
OK, some names to “dig here!” on as time permits. Looking at their biographies can be illustrative. I’ve glanced at them and it’s not a nice bunch of folks. Note, too, the “when”. Just at the end of W.W.II. “This matters”. They were trying to model themselves on what they had just seen, and that was a lot of killing of Jews and a lot of ‘unification’…
Note too how they ‘got power’. “A coup”. To these folks have grabbed the State, illegally (by definition, every coup is against the laws of the country involved or they would not be a coup…) and held it since 1963. That’s 49 years. We’ll likely make 1/2 Century before is all over, or pretty close to it. This is NOT your ‘representative democracy’… and it is a “party” only in the same sense as the Nazi and Communist Parties. You have a choice of one that actually holds all the power, and it hands out favors to some, spanks others.
In 1966 a coup d’état by the military against the historical leadership of Aflaq and 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. Both retained the Ba’ath name and parallel structures within the Arab world, but hostilities between them grew to the point that the Syrian Ba’ath became the only Arab government to support Iran (a non-Arabic nation) against Iraq during the First Persian Gulf War.
So much for that “unification” thing… But at least you get to see what they did not agree on. “Who ought to be in charge”…
Then you get a load of the “political economy babble” about who’s a what. For folks not familiar with it, most of these folks are Progressive / Socialists of one kind or another. They’ve cleaned it up a bit, though, so it looks all innocent. You will find these same folks in the background of the various Fascists, Nazi, Socialists, and Communist “thinkers” of the modern world. The wiki article has live links in it. I’m not going to put my time into duplicating them all here. If you want to read articles about these folks, hit the wiki directly and click through.
The motto “Unity, Liberty, Socialism” (Arabic: وحدة، حرية، اشتراكية Wahdah, Hurriyah, Ishtirakiyah) was inspired by the French Jacobin political doctrine linking national unity and social equity. Unity refers to Arab unity, or Pan-Arabism; liberty emphasizes freedom from foreign control and interference (self-determination); socialism refers to Arab socialism, rather than to European socialism or communism. The idea that national freedom and the glory of the Arab Nation had been destroyed by Ottoman and Western imperialism was expounded in Michel Aflaq’s works On the Way of Resurrection and The Battle for One Destiny. Aflaq is commonly considered to be the father of Ba’athism.
I’ve linked Aflaq’s name to his wiki as it has a good description of how the coup came to be, and how his ideas got turned against him. Somehow that always seems to happen with Socialisms. They start out all sweetness and nice, and then the folks who lust for power take them over. What changes is ‘how long’. In this case it started from an already cranky base, so the fall came much faster…
Arab nationalism was influenced by 19th Century mainland European thinkers, notably conservative German philosophers such as Johann Gottlieb Fichte of the Königsberg University Kantian school, and French Positivists such as Auguste Comte and professor Ernest Renan of the Collège de France in Paris. Ba’ath party co-founders Aflaq and Salah al-Bitar both studied at the Sorbonne in the early 1930s when Positivism was still the dominant ideology among France’s academic elite.
The Kulturnation concept of Johann Gottfried Herder and the Grimm Brothers also had an impact. Kulturnation defines a nationality by its common cultural traditions and popular folklore, rather than by national, political, or religious boundaries. It was considered by some to be more suitable for German, Arab, Ottoman and Turkic countries.
So who or what is a “Jacobin”? The Wiki does an OK job of it:
The Jacobin Club was the most famous and influential political club in the development of the French Revolution, so-named because of the Dominican convent where they met, located in the Rue St. Jacques (Latin: Jacobus), Paris. The club originated as the Club Benthorn, formed at Versailles from a group of Breton deputies attending the Estates General of 1789. There were thousands of chapters throughout France, with a membership estimated at 420,000. After the fall of Robespierre the club was closed.
Initially moderate, the club later became notorious for its implementation of the Reign of Terror. To this day, the terms Jacobin and Jacobinism are used as pejoratives for radical, left-wing revolutionary politics. It should not be confused with Jacobitism.
These were the “Off with their heads!” folks…
For Fichte it has a lot of semi-praise, then mentions the ‘naughty bits’:
Fichte made important contributions to political nationalism in Germany. In his Addresses to the German Nation (1808), a series of speeches delivered in Berlin under French occupation, he urged the German peoples to “have character and be German”–entailed in his idea of Germanness was antisemitism, since he argued that “making Jews free German citizens would hurt the German nation.” Fichte answered the call of Freiherr vom Stein, who attempted to develop the patriotism necessary to resist the French specifically among the “educated and cultural elites of the kingdom.” Fichte located Germanness in the supposed continuity of the German language, and based it on Tacitus, who had hailed German virtues in Germania and celebrated the heroism of Arminius in his Annales.
In an earlier work from 1793 dealing with the ideals and politics of the French Revolution, Beiträge zur Berichtigung der Urteile des Publikums über die Französische Revolution (Contributions to the Correction of the Public’s Judgment concerning the French Revolution), he called Jews a “state within a state” that could “undermine” the German nation. In regard to Jews getting “civil rights,” he wrote that this would only be possible if one managed “to cut off all their heads in one night, and to set new ones on their shoulders, which should contain not a single Jewish idea.”
Historian Robert Nisbet thought him to be “the true author of National Socialism”.
Jewish liberal philosopher Isaiah Berlin listed Fichte, along with his fellow German idealist G.W.F. Hegel, French materialist and utilitarian philosophe Claude Adrien Helvétius, Swiss collectivist philosophe Jean-Jacques Rousseau, French utopian socialist Henri de Saint-Simon, and Savoyard conservative Joseph de Maistre as thinkers who constituted the ideological basis for modern authoritarianism, in his book Freedom and Its Betrayal: Six Enemies of Human Liberty.
The Ba’ath Party was a form of the already somewhat specialized form of Socialism called Arab Socialism. IMHO, it’s your standard socialism but with a rejection of the general Socialist Hostility To Religion and with a bit more of a ‘Nazi / Fascist bent’ on the collectivizing of private property. There would still be companies and some private property as long as it did the will of the State…
For its adherents, Arab socialism was a necessary consequence of the quest for Arab unity and freedom, as only a socialist system of property and development would overcome the social and economic legacy of imperialism and colonialism. At the same time, Arab socialism widely differs from the Eastern Europe and Eastern Asian socialist movements, which were atheist. Unlike their Chinese counterparts, the basis of Arab nationalism is not ostensibly doctrinal, but cultural and spiritual. Thus, the “anti-spiritual” socialism of Eastern Europe and Eastern Asia was considered ill-adapted to the Arab World. As with socialist ideologies across the world, there has historically been a strong internationalist tendency in the Arab socialism; however, it was based primarily on anti-imperialism, and non-alignment, particularly during the Cold War.
While Arab socialism in its heyday endorsed much of the economic and social programme of Eastern European-style socialism, its divergent intellectual and spiritual foundations imposed some limits on its revolutionary potential: the ownership of the means of production was to be nationalized, but only within the constraints of traditional values such as private property, and inheritance. So-called primitive social structures, such as feudalism, nomadism, tribalism, religious factionalism, and the oppression of women, were to be overcome, but not at the cost of severing the social ties that constituted the Arab identity.
Arguably, the most notable economic manifestations of Arab socialism were the land reforms in Egypt (1952), Syria (1963), and Iraq (1970), and the nationalization of major industries and the banking systems in those countries. In Egypt and Syria, many of these policies were later reversed to some degree from the 1970s onwards. They were more successful in Iraq, possibly due to the country’s oil wealth, until the beginning of the Iran–Iraq War in 1980.
In their favor, they do seem to have learned relatively quickly that nationalizing the banks and “major industries” started failing pretty quick, and backed out of some of it. (Unless you have a river of Other People’s Money from selling boat loads of oil, like Iraq…)
It’s the same old story… Socialism takes over, starts screwing around with the money and the banks. Takes control of some major industries (like, oh, a couple of car companies, some Alternative Energy funding, and the medical sector…) and then once it’s pretty well screwed up and not working right, either collapses or, if very lucky, backs out in a big hurry.
You’d think that after the 50th or 80th time they saw this movie they would learn… but ideology never learns… Sigh.
I don’t know why, but in addition to the Baath Party wiki, there is a Baathism wiki:
It leans a bit more communist and less fascist in it’s socialism (wonder if they fear the Fascism word?…)
Aflaq supported the idea of democratic centralism and a committed activist revolutionary party based on the Leninist model. The revolutionary party would seize political power and from there on, transform society for the greater good. While the revolutionary party was numerically a minority, it was an all powerful institution, which had the right to initiate a policy even if the majority of the population were against it. As with the Leninist model, the Ba’ath party knew what was right and what was wrong; the population as a whole did not know this yet, they were still influenced by the old value and moral system.
Though it does give a bit of insight into why Socialists like to hide behind the “Progressive” Label (other than that most folks have figured out that socialism fails):
The only way to combat the reactionary classes laid in “progressive” revolution, central to which is struggle for unity. This struggle could not be separated from the social revolution – to separate these two would be the same as to weaken the movement. The reactionary classes, who are content with the status quo, would oppose the “progressive” revolution. Even if the revolution succeeded in one “region” (country), that region would be unable to develop because of the resource constraints, small populations and the anti-revolution forces held by other Arab leaders. For a revolution to succeed the Arab world would have to evolve into an “organic whole” (literally become one). In short, Arab unity is both the cause of the “progressive” revolution and its effect.
A major obstacle to the success of the revolution is the Arab League. Aflaq believed that the Arab League strengthened both regional interests and the reactionary classes, thus weakening the chance of establishing an Arab nation. Because of the world situation, where the majority of Arab states were under the rule of the reactionary classes, revised his ideology to meet reality. Instead of creating an Arab nation through a Arab wide progressive revolution, the main task of country’s were progressive revolutionaries had succeeded was to spread the revolution. These progressive revolutionary countries would then one by one unite until the Arab world had evolved into an Arab nation. The revolution would not succeed if the progressive revolutionary governments did not contribute to spreading the revolution.
Yeah, it’s got all the usual markers of dogmatic socialisms and communisms with “reactionaries” and all… But at least now you can see what makes a ‘progressive’ different from a ‘socialist’. The Progressive knows they will get push back and expects to need to run from country to country until they get a ‘base’ established for taking over the others…
They have an interesting view on “liberty” (but then again, all progressives and socialists do…)
The Ba’ath party through its preeminence would establish liberty. According to Aflaq, liberty could not just come from nowhere, it needed an enlightened progressive group to create a truly free society. Fundamentally, Aflaq’s had an authoritarian perspective on liberty. In contrast to the liberal democratic concept of liberty, in Aflaq’s vision liberty would be ensured by a Ba’ath party which was not elected by the populace, because the party had the common good at heart. Historian Paul Salem has said that the weakness of such a system is “quite obvious”
“Authoritarian Liberty”… what a concept… Clearly the Socialist view of liberty is at odds with the libertarian view…
That particular link has long discussions of the Egyptian version (Nassar et al) along with discussions of the various factions and changes inside the various national versions.
It also has a discussion of the “Cell” structure used by the party and how it helps to prevent ‘infiltration’…
The Ba’ath Party was created at the Second National Congress as a cell-based organisation, 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 the organisation—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. The party was difficult to infiltrate, because members did not know the identity of many other Ba’athists.
From its lowest organizational level (the cell) to the highest (the National Command), the party was structured as follows:
Which is then followed by a list of 6 different levels and how each works.
Lists a bunch of other links too, If you care, hit THAT link to get live links. I’m just quoting the text here:
This list is incomplete; you can help by expanding it.
Arab Ba’ath Movement (1940–1947)
Arab Ba’ath (1940–1947)
Arab Ba’ath Party (1947–1952)
Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party (1952–1966)
Ba’ath Party (Iraqi-led faction) (1966–present)
Ba’ath Party (Syrian-led faction) (1966–present)
Note, though, that it starts in 1940, while W.W.II is still a going concern…
The Axis Connection
It is rather coy about the beginnings. From that “Movement” link:
The Movement was formed in 1940 as the Arab Ihya Movement by Syrian expatriate Michel Aflaq.
Shortly after being founded, the Movement became involved in anti-colonial Arab nationalist militant activities, including Aflaq founding the Syrian Committee to Help Iraq that was created in 1941 to support the anti-British and pro-Axis government of Iraq against the British during the Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941. The Syrian Committee sent weapons and volunteers to fight alongside Iraqi forces against the British.
“Pro-Axis” is a way to say Nazi and Fascist Italy without those embarrassing words of Nazi and Fascist…
The Axis powers (German: Achsenmächte, Italian: Potenze dell’Asse, Japanese: 枢軸国 (Sūjikukoku?)), also known as the Axis alliance, Axis nations, Axis countries, or just the Axis, was the alignment of great powers that fought World War II against the Allies. It began in 1936 with treaties of friendship between Germany and Italy and between Germany and Japan. The “Rome-Berlin Axis” became a full military alliance in 1939 under the Pact of Steel, and the Tripartite Pact of 1940 fully integrated the military aims of Germany, Italy, and Japan. At their zenith in the midst of World War II, the Axis powers ruled empires that dominated large parts of Europe, Africa, East and Southeast Asia and the Pacific Ocean, but the war ended with their total defeat and dissolution. Like the Allies, membership of the Axis was fluid, and other nations entered and later left the Axis during the course of the war.
Iraq was briefly an ally of the Axis, fighting the United Kingdom in the Anglo-Iraqi War of May 1941.
Anti-British sentiments were widespread in Iraq prior to 1941. Seizing power on April 1, 1941, the nationalist government of Iraqi Prime Minister Rashid Ali repudiated the Anglo-Iraqi Treaty of 1930 and demanded that the British abandon their military bases and withdraw from the country. Ali sought support from Germany and Italy in expelling British forces from Iraq.
On May 9, 1941, Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Mufti of Jerusalem and associate of Ali, declared “holy war” against the British and called on Arabs throughout the Middle East to rise up against British rule. On May 25, 1941, the Germans stepped up offensive operations. Hitler issued Order 30,“ “The Arab Freedom Movement in the Middle East is our natural ally against England. In this connection special importance is attached to the liberation of Iraq… I have therefore decided to move forward in the Middle East by supporting Iraq.” ”
Hostilities between the Iraqi and British forces began on May 2, 1941, with heavy fighting at the RAF air base in Habbaniya. The Germans and Italians dispatched aircraft and aircrew to Iraq utilizing Vichy French bases in Syria, which would later invoke fighting between Allied and Vichy French forces in Syria.
The Germans planned to coordinate a combined German-Italian offensive against the British in Egypt, Palestine and Iraq. Iraqi military resistance, however, ended by May 31, 1941. Rashid Ali and the Mufti of Jerusalem fled to Iran, then Turkey, Italy and finally Germany where Ali was welcomed by Hitler as head of the Iraqi government-in-exile in Berlin. In propaganda broadcasts from Berlin, the Mufti continued to call on Arabs to rise up against the British and aid German and Italian forces. He also helped recruit Muslim volunteers in the Balkans for the Waffen SS.
Also note that Syria was a French territory at the time.
Vichy France and allied to Germany.
Vichy France assisted Iraq in the Anglo-Iraqi War of 1941, allowing Germany and Italy to utilize air bases in the French mandate of Syria to support the Iraqi revolt against the British. Allied forces responded by attacking Syria and Lebanon in 1941. In 1942, Allied forces attacked the French colony of Madagascar.
So you see, the Ba’ath Party largely started as a Nazi fostered vehicle for putting a nice little Fascist flavored Socialism in Iraq and Syria during W.W.II for the express purpose of going to war with the United Kingdom and the “Colonial West”…
The Nazi and Fascist movements were fellow travelers with the Ba’ath Party from it’s first beginnings.
Leaving behind the wiki world, there are other places where you can find similar information. Often even more strongly worded.
I was rather surprised to find that ‘absolute astronomy’ had a page:
but it looks to be just a clone of the wiki. Then again, it might serve as a preserved copy if ‘things change’…
I found this next link a fascinating read. It is biased, bigoted, has an agenda. And that is exactly why I like it. I know what this guy is saying. Like it or not, it’s not sanitized by the PC filter that’s in so many places these days. The page is written from a very Muslim Arab point of view (at least, I think it’s Arab. The talk about corruption of the “Arab World”, but I suppose it might be Persian tossing dirt at the Arab World…) It basically ‘rips em’ on the topic of Arab Socialism and has a big chip about Darwin ( though I’m not sure why Darwin is so much a focus… but I did find a connection in the wiki on one of the French Socialists that said they had been inspired by Darwin to create a secular religion idea to replace other religions with the state, so maybe that is more widely known outside the USA…)
Communists have always been among the most fervid adherents of Social Darwinism. This relationship between Darwinism and communism goes back to the founders of both “isms.” Marx and Engels, the founders of communism, read Darwin’s Origin of Species as soon as it was published and admired the book’s “dialectical materialist” approach. Correspondence between Marx and Engels shows that they both considered Darwin’s theory to be “the foundation of communism in terms of the natural sciences.” Indeed, in his book Dialectics of Nature, written under the influence of Darwin, Engels praised Darwin and tried, in his own eyes, to make a contribution to the theory of evolution in the chapter “The Part Played by Labor in the Transition from Ape to Man.”
At any rate, if you ‘get past that’ it lets you see how someone ‘over there’ sees things.
After a rather nice writeup about Nasser ( I’d not realized he was so closely tied to Arab Socialism movements and the Ba’athists.) I knew he’d been sort of socialist, but frankly was paying attention to other things when he was running Egypt… like going to grammar school and learning to ride a bike and drive a car. He died while I was still in High School. FWIW, looking over the wiki, I think I need to brush up on his role in the wars with Israel and the whole nationalizing the Suez thing. I knew he did those things, but did not have the lens of ‘what is an Arab Socialist’ to add clarity. It also looks like there was a brief “union” with Syria (that later fell apart) so that would be an interesting “dig”. Just how did this Socialism work out in Egypt back then..
At any rate, back at that other link; it does a good job of painting the sweep of history:
How Did the Communist Intellectual System
Gradually Seize Power in Arab Countries?
– The administration phase: In the period between the collapse of the Ottoman Empire and the World War II, the colonialist powers Great Britain and France established an intensely repressive system in Algeria, Egypt, Tunisia, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Fascist Germany and Italy were busy repressing Muslims in such countries as Libya and Ethiopia. Enormous pressure was put on religious people in this period, while new generation intellectuals and state administrators were receiving a Darwinist education in Europe. The aim was to distance first the administrators in Arab countries and then the public from Islamic moral values, and thus to maintain the colonialist system. The communist and Darwinist education provided in Europe resulted in the appearance of a communist new generation and ideologies in the Muslim Arab world that were far removed from the moral values of Islam.
– The military phase: Following the end of the World War II, which resulted in the economic collapse of the states of Europe, the cold war began, a struggle between two opposing axes, together with a communist movement among Arab countries. These movements uttered Arab nationalist slogans and also wished to establish a communist-socialist regime. Communist ideology found particular support among the upper echelons of the various militaries because Arab armies had also received Darwinist materialist training in Europe during the colonialist period and consisted of cadres who had been completely distanced from Islamic moral values.
– The coup phase: The Arab socialist-communist movement seized power through a number of coups right up until the 1970s. Arab socialist eras dawned with Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Colonel Gaddafi in Libya, in Iraq with first General Hassan al-Bakr and then Saddam Hussein and in Syria with the Arab Socialist Ba’ath Party and Hafez al-Assad. Arab states were communized through these coups. The communist took the name of the Ba’ath Party in politics in Iraq and Syria, and throughout the decades of their rule, communist cadres were installed in the most crucial positions in the state, the army, the civil service and the education system.
Searching on “Ba’ath movement NAZI history” turns up many interesting links. There are several that look to be Israeli or Jewish at a minimum. I would expect their facts to be right, but watch out for emotional bias…
But the rise of German fascism also played a role. Many in the Arab world saw Hitler as an ally. In 1941, the Arab world was electrified by a pro-Axis coup in Baghdad. At that time, Iraq was nominally independent but Britain maintained a strong military presence. An Arab nationalist by the name of Rashid Ali al-Kailani organised an army coup against the pro-British Iraqi monarchy and requested help from Nazi Germany. In Damascus, then a Vichy French colony, the Baath Party founders immediately organised public demonstrations in support of Rashid Ali.
After the Second World War, the Baathists emerged as the leadership of Arab nationalism for two reasons. First, they were the only force with a coherent ideology. Second, the existing Arab political elites were blamed for the establishment of the state of Israel in 1948. Nor was Islam a competitor. For the Western-educated founders of Baathism, Islam smacked of backwardness. For the nascent Islamic fundamentalists, the Baathists were substituting Arabism for the much wider historic conquests of Muslim civilisation. But it was that pan-Arab nationalism that appealed to discontented Arab youth in the Fifties and Sixties.
The radical Arab nationalist groups of the 1930s and after were influenced by European fascism. From an early date Mussolini chose to present himself as a promoter of Arab nationalism, above all as a tool for the expansion of Italian influence. The Fascist regime had him proclaimed a “hero of Islam” and “defender of Islam” in Italian Libya. where a parallel Libyan Arab Fascist party was created. From Newsweek of October 7, 1940, he made a trip to Libya and there proclaimed himself the “Defender of Islam,” Leaflets were distributed, which reminded Arabs that Mussolini was there “defender” . In Egypt the Italians have adopted much of the same line, and last week they also continued efforts to woo King Farouk with promises that if he threw in his lot with the totalitarian powers he might become the head of a greater Arab state.
At least four other Arab countries had developed fascist-type movements by 1939: Syria, Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. among the pre WW2 Arab-Nazi organizations were: the Iron Shirts (led by Fakhri al-Barudi of the National Bloc, still a member of the Syrian parliament in 1946); the League for National Action (headed by Abdu al-Huda al-Yab, Dr. Zaki al-Jabi and others); the An-Nadi al-Arabi Club of Damascus (headed by Dr. Said Abd Al-Fattah al-Imam); the Councils for the Defense of Arab Palestine (head by well known pro-Nazi leaders, such as Nabi al-Azmah, Adil Arslan and others); the Syrian People’s Party SSNP.
That last one is rather interesting as it’s joined with the Ba’ath Party to form a conglomerate of sorts, the “National Progressive Front” (No hiding what “Progressive” means for these folks, No-Siryee…
The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) (Arabic: الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي, transliterated: al-Ḥizb as-Sūrī al-Qawmī al-‘Ijtimāʕī, often referred to in French as Parti Populaire Syrien or Parti Social Nationaliste Syrien), is a secular nationalist political party operating in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and Palestine. It advocates the establishment of a Syrian nation state spanning the Fertile Crescent, including present day Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Jordan, the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Cyprus, Kuwait, Sinai, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran. It is the largest political group in Syria after the Ba’ath, with over 100,000 members. In Lebanon, it is part of the March 8 Alliance.
Founded in Beirut in 1932 as a national liberation organization hostile to French colonialism, the party played a significant role in Lebanese politics and was involved in attempted coups in 1949 and 1961 following which it was thoroughly repressed. It was active in the resistance against the Israeli invasion of Lebanon from 1982 to 2000 while continiously supporting the Syrian presence in Lebanon. In Syria, the SSNP became a major political force in the early 1950s, but was thoroughly repressed in 1955. It remained organised, and in 2005 was legalised and joined the Ba’ath Party-led National Progressive Front.
They even have a nice little “Swastika Lite” on their flag:
I think I’ll end this little survey of the Ba’ath Party and their comrades on that note. You can easily find more of the same with out much trouble. So do we call these folks Arab Nazis, or Syrian Fascists, or Pan-Arab Socialist Nationalists? I don’t think it really matters. Folks on the Socialist side of things change names as often as I change cars. They relabel the package every couple of years and find a new batch of folks willing to buy it, for a while.
What matters to me is just that I now have a much better handle on what the mind set is of the folks in Syria. Where their ideology has it’s roots. Why they act as they do.
It is just the ‘same old same old’ Fascist variant of Socialism doing it’s typical “Usurp power, dominate and oppress” thing. The roots of their two major political parties (only one with real power as it has a constitutional lock on seats) reach back to their old friends and fellow travelers in the desire to exterminate the Jews: The German Nazi “National Socialist Workers Party”.
They used a coup to come to power. They have no qualms about continuing to use military might to cling to power. They have no love of liberty, and despise self determination for the common man. They have a very long history of this, having fostered similar movements in other Arab countries ( most of which have already failed). They have a ‘cell’ structure rather like the communist system, but IIRC, the Nazis had something like that too early on. But I suppose the trains run on time…
No wonder just about everyone from the Israelis to Al Quada don’t like them and would like them gone… And no wonder they are also so willing to shell civilian city areas, such as in Homs, and indiscriminately kill civilians to get their way… It’s been part of the Socialist Playbooks since they were first written by folks like Marx/Engels/Lenin, Mussolini, and HItler. “Revolution” and suppression of “Reactionaries” is a core need of the ideology… how else can you have a “Progressive” revolution?…