The Decline of Arab Unity: The Rise and Fall of the United Arab Republic 1902210204, 9781902210209

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The Decline of Arab Unity: The Rise and Fall of the United Arab Republic
 1902210204, 9781902210209

Table of contents :
List of Illustrations
Foreword by Moshe Ma ‘oz
1. Elite Politics in Syria and Egypt
2. The Road to the Union
3. Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere (March 1958-February 1959)
4. Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere (March 1958-February 1959)
5. A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres (February 1959-February 1960)
6. The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere (February 1960-July 1961)
7. The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere (February 1960-July 1961)
8. Syria's Secession from the UAR
9. The End of a Dream

Citation preview


“Where to start is the problem, because nothing begins when it begins and nothing’s over when it’s over, and everything needs a preface: a preface, a post­ script, chart of simultaneous events. History is a construct. . . any point of entry is possible and all choices are arbitrary. Still, there are definitive moments, moments we use as references, because they break our sense of continuity, they change the direction of time. We can look at these events and we can say that after them things were never the same again.” Margaret Atwood, The Robber Bride

“We came into politics early: it was the city, the time, and the passion of nation­ alism. I braved the fury of my elders once, not so long ago after that hot summer of 1958, and went to Damascus, aboard a bus with my friends, to attend a rally for the Egyptian leader Gamal Abdul Nasser. We caught a glimpse of the heroleader of Arab nationalism as he made an appearance on the balcony of a guest palace. It was a time of innocence. Around the comer, it was believed, lay a great Arab project, and this leader from Egypt would bring it about.” Fouad Ajami, The Dream Palace o f the Arabs (1998)

We dreamt of the great Arab unity. . . but when we reached the palm tree, we quarreled over the dates . . . We boasted that in the United Arab State, the sun would never set, but when we became the rulers, its rays turned into one candle, whose light was unable to illuminate but our own statelets . . . Nizar Qabbani (1976)

The Decline of Arab Unity The Rise and Fall o f the United Arab Republic

ElieJE’odeh RSrcword by

Professor Moshe Ma 'oz T he Harry S. T ruman Research Institute for the Advancement of Peace


B righton • P ortland

Copyright © Elie Podeh 1999 The right of Elie Podeh to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.

2 4 6 8 109753 1 First published 1999 in Great Britain by SUSSEX ACADEMIC PRESS Box 2950 Brighton BN2 5SP and in the United States o f America by SUSSEX ACADEMIC PRESS 5804 N.E. Hassalo St. Portland, Oregon 97213-3644

All rights reserved. Except for the quotation of short passages for the purposes of criticism and review, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or trans­ mitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the publisher.

British Library Cataloguing in Publication Data A CIP catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. Library o f Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Podeh, Elie. The decline of Arab unity : the rise and fall of the United Arabic Republic / Elie Podeh ; foreword by Moshe Ma‘oz. p. cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. ) and index. ISBN 1-902210-20-4 (he. : alk. paper) 1. United Arab Republic-History. I. Title. DT107.83.P63 1999 962.05*3-dc21 99-20797 CIP

Printed by Biddles Ltd, Guildford and King's Lynn This book is printed on acid-free paper


List o f Illustrations


Foreword by Moshe Ma ‘oz




List o f Abbreviations





Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt Defining the Élite Middle Eastern Élites The Syrian Élite The Egyptian Élite

11 11 12 14 18


The Road to the Union The Syrian Attitude toward Arab Unity The Egyptian Attitude toward Arab Unity Egyptian-Syrian Relations: From Conflict to Cooperation Syrian Unrest Intensifies The Syrian Army and Union The US Position toward the Union Countdown to Union

25 25 27 30 36 38 39 42


Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere (M arch 1958-February 1959) The Institutional Framework

49 49








The Arab World: Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq First Political Changes

57 64

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere (M arch 1958-February 1959) Early Efforts at Economic Integration The Agrarian Reform Law Toward a More Integrated Economy The Higher Ministerial Committee (HMC)

68 68 75 80 82

A W idening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres (February 1959-Februaryl960) The Impact of the Iraqi Shawwaf Revolt Elections to the National Union ‘Amir’s Mission in Syria The Resignation of the Ba‘th Ministers The Question of Foreign Aid

85 85 89 98 101 105

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere (February 1960-July 1961) Egypt Tightens its Control The Formation of the National Union Attempts at Creating a UAR National Identity The Formation of the National Assembly Sarraj ’s Rule Consolidated

110 110 115 119 123 126

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere (February 1960-July 1961) Attempts to Alleviate the Economic Predicament Toward an Economic Integration The Impact of the July 1961 Decrees

130 130 136 141

Syria’s Secession from the UAR Political Integration The Military Takeover Syrian Reactions to Secession Egyptian Responses to Secession

145 145 148 151 154

Contents 9

The End of a Dream Developments in Syria Developments in Egypt The Aleppo Insurrection The Shtura Meeting The Cairo Tripartite Talks and Beyond

159 159 162 165 169 171



Notes Bibliography Index

197 271 287

List of Illustrations

Plates M ap

pages 93-6 and 183-6 showing the boundaries o f the United Arab Republic, p. xvi

Tables 1.1 The Egyptian and Syrian Élites: Comparative Observations 4.1 Syria: Production of Main Crops 4.2 Major Syrian Exports 4.3 Syria’s Trade Patterns: Imports 4.4 Syria’s Trade Patterns: Exports 4.5 Syria’s National Income 4.6 Syria: Indices of Agricultural Production 4.7 Syria: Balance of Foreign Trade 7.1 Rainfall in Principal Areas in Syria

21 70 70 71 71 72 72 73 140

Figures 1.1 Egyptian Élite (post-1952) 1.2 Syrian Élite 5.1 Pyramidal Structure of the National Union 6.1 The Institutional Structure of the National Union

22 23 91 116


Foreword by Moshe Ma ‘oz

In spite of its short duration, the rise and demise of the United Arab Republic - the union between Egypt and Syria (1958-61) - is considered a seminal episode in the modem history of the Arab World. At the time, many Arabs hoped that the union would herald the realization of the pan-Arab dream, but its disintegration shattered this dream beyond repair. With the wisdom of hind­ sight it is also clear that this episode had a significant, lasting impact on the evolution of Arab politics. Yet in spite of the recognized historical importance of the UAR, there has been no systematic study of this episode, which would attempt to analyze the processes that led to the establishment and subsequent disintegration of the UAR, as well as its lessons and heritage for the Arab world. Thus, almost forty years after the collapse of the UAR, Elie Podeh’s book on The Rise and Fall of the United Arab Republic is certainly a long overdue study. Filling an important gap in modem Arab historiography, it significantly contributes to our understanding of inter-Arab relations and the domestic developments in Egypt and in Syria. The fact that Arab archives are not open to the public is of course a major impediment for any scholar. Podeh, however, admirably overcame this deficiency by an extensive use of Western archives and of all the available Arab literature, including newspapers and personal memoirs. His work in the American and Canadian archives proved particularly rewarding as he found valuable information that sheds light on the political and economic factors that eventually led to the fall of the UAR. Podeh analyzes the episode in the context of pan-Arab ideology, showing how the UAR was both its culmination and the beginning of its decline. While the author convincingly argues that the im­ portance of this ideology was in in generating a suitable Zeitgeist that enabled the formation of an Arab union, he also reveals that the establishment of the UAR was a more complex process, involving state and personal interests. His major unit of analysis is the élite, or the various groups of the élite, in both Syria and Egypt, which played a dominant role in the formation and break-up of the union. While Podeh’s description of Syrian interests is more in line with the IX

Foreword by Moshe Ma ‘oz conventional thesis (domestic instability, élite rivalries, Soviet threat, etc.), his presentation of the Egyptian stance is truly novel. He claims that, in contrast to the accepted notion that ‘Abd al-Nasir “succumbed” or was “compelled” to enter the union as a result of Syrian pressure, he rationally took over Syria for a variety of internal, but mainly external, reasons. Based on American docu­ ments, Podeh is the first to show that the formation of the union was, in fact, facilitated by the United States, which gave ‘Abd al-Nasir a “green light” to operate in Syria in order to stabilize the regime and uproot the perceived Soviet threat. The main contribution of this study, however, is the in-depth examination of the many political, social and economic factors that led to the demise of the UAR. Podeh shows that ‘Abd al-Nasir attempted to “Egyptianize” the Syrian region in all these spheres. While the Syrians hoped to retain some control of Syrian affairs, Egypt was guided by a hegemonic concept that led it to dom­ inate the union politically and economically. Thus, Damascus - the great capital of the Ummayyid Empire and the cradle of Arab nationalism - was marginal­ ized to the great chagrin of many Syrians. Podeh dedicates a major part of his narrative to the changes that took place in the socioeconomic spheres, where Egypt gradually, but persistently, attempted to transform the Syrian capitalist system into a socialist one, like in Egypt. Naturally, the Syrian economic élite (landowners and the upper bourgeoisie) highly resented this development. At the same time, ‘Abd al-Nasir invested efforts to erase most traces of Syrian identity while Egyptian symbols and customs remained largely intact. In such a way, the Egyptians succeeded in alienating all segments of the Syrian élite, as well as the Syrian public in general. Podeh’s description offers a detailed explanation why the Syrians - with the help of the army acting as a vanguard - decided to secede from the union only three and a half years after its formation. The unique collaboration between the army, the old landed oligarchy and the bourgeoisie showed that the older generation, which had been swept aside in Egypt and Iraq, was still powerful in Syria, though this would not last for long. The study culminates with an analysis of the significant consequences of the UAR. Podeh claims that while both countries bore the brunt of this episode, it is clear that Syria has been much more affected by the UAR collapse than was Egypt. Interestingly, and one might add paradoxically, this unity scheme was successful in consolidating the shaky Syrian identity. In fact, once the Syrians lost their independence they suddenly realized that they did indeed possess a different identity than the Egyptians. They also realized that being an Arab and a Syrian at the same time is not necessarily a contradiction in terms. In addi­ tion, the various unity schemes proposed in the 1960s and 1970s blur the fact that the UAR collapse irretrievably damaged pan-Arabism. Since the decline x

Foreword by Moshe Ma ‘oz of Arab unity commenced in 1961, the 1967 War only accentuated this trend. Podeh also suggests that the road to this war had been paved by secession. The Israeli-UAR border during 1958-61 was relatively calm, but the Syrian secession compelled various Syrian cabinets, lacking sufficient legitimacy, to escalate the Arab-Israeli conflict in order to bolster their position. Yet the most important results in the long run, as Podeh correctly suggests, are the strengthening of the wataniyya - the territorial identity - and the notion that the Arab State is a legitimate actor in Arab politics. Above all, the UAR experience demonstrates that in order to shatter a dream, it is sometimes necessary to implement it. Moshe M a ‘oz The Hebrew University o f Jerusalem


This book tells the story of a fading dream, the dream of Arab unity, which captured the imagination of millions of Arabs during the 20th century. On 1 February 1958, Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir and Shukry al-Quwwatli, the Egyptian and Syrian presidents, respectively, announced the formation of the United Arab Republic (UAR) (al-Jumhuriyya al-‘Arabiyya al-Muttahida). Many Arabs hoped that the new entity would become the kernel of a state comprising the whole Arab nation, heralding the beginning of a new Arab renaissance. This dream was abruptly shattered with the break-up of the UAR on 28 September 1961. Arab unity has never recovered from this painful ordeal and the hope that an Arab State would be established has withered away. This study is a sequel to my first book, The Quest fo r Hegemony in the Arab World: The Struggle over the Baghdad Pact (1995). It analyzes the role of the Baghdad Pact in Arab politics during the years 1955-58 through the prism of the Egyptian-Iraqi rivalry for domination in the Arab world. With the forma­ tion of the UAR and the revolution in Iraq (July 1958), the Baghdad Pact withered away and a new era in Arab politics began, dominated by pan-Arab ideology and its unique manifestation - the UAR. Despite its short duration, the UAR episode is a major development in the modem history of the Arab world. This is the first book, based on recently declassified archival material, which analyzes this important, yet neglected, episode and explores its impact on the Arab world. It aims to shed light on the political, ideological, social, and economic processes that led to the establish­ ment and subsequent disintegration of the UAR in the context of the evolution of pan-Arab ideology. The formation of the UAR was the beginning of the realization of this ideology; its collapse, however, three and a half years later, marked the beginning of its decline. Many unity schemes had been formulated in the 1960s and 1970s, but none were politically viable. A meticulous study of what happened in Egypt and Syria during the union years may explain why these schemes were anathema to Arab rulers since that time. Beyond the ideological influence of pan-Arabism, the rise and fall of the xii

Preface UAR should be analyzed within the context of élite politics. On the one hand, conflicts within competing groups of the Syrian élite were largely responsible for the formation of the union. On the other hand, conflicts between the Egyptian élite and the temporarily unified groups of the Syrian élite led to its disintegration. Since élite groups in both Syria and Egypt constitute major units of analysis in this study, the historical narrative has been structured around this theme. The centrality of political and social forces notwithstanding, historians need to take into consideration the role of the individual leader. In essence, the UAR episode is the story of ‘Abd al-Nasir, a charismatic leader whose personality, more than anyone else, epitomized the pan-Arab dream. He represented a young, radical Arab generation yearning for change and progress. In the unfolding drama he was undoubtedly the major actor whose performance over­ shadowed all other players. He may be regarded, in the words of the German philosopher Hegel, “the great man of the age.. .who can put into words the will of his age, tell his age what its will is, and accomplish it. What he does is the heart and essence of his age; he actualizes his age” (quoted in Carr, What is History, London, 1962, p. 48). While the historian’s craft precludes specula­ tion, it seems fair to assume that without ‘Abd al-Nasir there would not have been a UAR. The fact that he left no diaries or memoirs only complicates our task; it is hoped, however, that the thorough use of archival material enabled us to shed light on his personality. As a student of Middle Eastern history I found the UAR a fascinating episode. It was unclear why would Syria - a state that had achieved its inde­ pendence after a fierce struggle against the French mandate in 1946 voluntarily surrender its sovereignty only twelve years after. This phenomenon is particularly interesting in light of the fact that Syria, the weaker partner, had initiated the union and not Egypt, which was considered the strongest Arab State. No less puzzling is the fact that it took the Syrians only three and a half years to dismantle the union. After realizing that it was not what they had initially expected, a group of officers instigated a coup - not a rare phenom­ enon in Syria’s political life - which led to its secession from the UAR. In contrast to previous military coups, this one enjoyed the support of all segments of the society. In historical terms, the UAR was a short episode; still, it had a lasting impact on Syria and the Arab State, which had suffered from lack of legitimacy until the late 1950s. During February 1998, the Arab world celebrated the 40th anniversary of the UAR. On 22 February, the date in which the union was formally established, the official newspaper of the Syrian Ba‘th Party, Tishrin, dedicated its editorial to the idea of Arab unity. Under the title “Arab Strength Lay in Their Union,” the newspaper listed the achievements of the UAR, stating that “there is no life xiii

Preface for the Arabs without union.” This editorial was part of a larger media campaign in which President Asad and many Syrian organizations paid due respect to the idea of Arab unity and to the memory of the UAR. In contrast, the Egyptian official media almost completely ignored the event. These diametrically opposing attitudes reflect, in a nutshell, the way Syrians and Egyptians have viewed the union and its heritage. It had been the Syrian party that had expressed more enthusiasm and eagerness to unite than had their Egyptian counter-parts. Moreover, while for many Syrians the UAR remained a myth and symbol of unfulfilled hopes, the Egyptians have been largely indifferent and unaffected by this experience. Therefore, it is no coincidence that the Syrian State eventually adopted the UAR’s flag. Thus, while the UAR episode is a sealed chapter in Arab history, its ramifications vibrate in Syria and in other places where the idea of Arab unity is still cherished. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the support of institutions and friends involved in the making of this book. I thank the staff at the British, American, Canadian and Israeli archives for their valuable help in collecting the archival material. Special thanks is due to Haim Gal and the staff at the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, Tel Aviv University, who enabled me free access to the rich collection of newspapers in Arabic. Gracious thanks to the Harry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace, which, through the Maurice J. and Fay B. Karpf Foundation and the Ben-Refael Fellowship, supported this project from its inception until its successful completion. In addition, I have received support from the British Council, the Leonard Davis Institute for International Relations, and the Faculty of Humanities at the Hebrew University. I would like to warmly thank Prof. Moshe Ma’oz, for his keen support and interest in this study; to Prof. Ya‘akov Bar-Siman-Tov, for his ceaseless affection and encouragement. It would be only fair to note that the copyright of the book’s first title (“The Decline of Arab Unity”) are all his. Prof. Avi Shlaim and Prof. Ephraim Karsh offered valuable support and advice. Dr Onn Winckler was helpful with the chapters that dealt with the UAR economy. My research assistant, Gili Hotoranski, provided me with valuable information contained in chapter 6. Finally, I would like to thank my wife, Elianna, whose love, support, and patience always served as a source of inspiration. My daughter, Amarelle, is always anxiously awaiting the next book, hoping to see her name there too. I cannot, of course, betray her trust. Elie Podeh January 1999




Agricultural Cooperative Society Agrarian Reform Institution Agrarian Reform Law Arab Political Documents Central Intelligence Agency Canadian National Archives Department of External Affairs Development Loan Fund Executive Council Economic Development Organization Export-Import Bank Federation of Arab Republics Foreign Relations of the United States Higher Ministerial Committee Genera] Federation of Trade Unions International Bank for Reconstruction and Development Israeli State Archives Lira Egyptian Lira Syrian Middle East News Agency Middle East Record National Assembly National Revolutionary Command Council National Union Public Law Parti Populaire Syrien Supreme Arab Revolutionary Command United Arab Republic United Arab States United States’ National Archives XV

Map of the United Arab Republic, consisting of Egypt and Syria, and stressing the absence of territorial link.


It is possible to identify four schools of thought in the literature that dealt with the rise and fall of the UAR. The ideological school regards the UAR as a culmi­ nation of the long-aspired pan-Arab dream, which envisaged the creation of a unified Arab state. The formation of the union was thus perceived as a moral victory over Western imperialism, intended to rectify the injustice inflicted on the Arab world by the establishment of artificial Arab states following the First World War. In more concrete Arab terms, pan-Arab nationalism (qawmiyya) triumphed over the parochial territorial nationalism (wataniyya). Many Arabs, whether participants in the events or mere observers, tended to analyze the UAR episode in the context of pan-Arab ideology. The collapse of the UAR, therefore, was perceived as a “crime” against the noble pan-Arab unity, effec­ tuated by the forces of imperialism, Zionism, and Arab reaction.1 The domestic politics school concentrates on the interests of the Syrian élite and the internal constraints of its political system, which compelled various groups within the élite to seek a union with Egypt. While far from uniform, this school shares the reasoning that domestic politics affected Syrian foreign policy. Such thinking tends to support the Innenpolitik school in international relations, which contends that domestic concerns are what primarily determines a state’s external policies.2Explanations suggested for the union were the weak­ ness of the Syrian State, the fragmentation of its society, the instability of the political system, élite rivalries and the absence of an orderly political com­ munity. According to this school, any one of these factors, or a combination of them, led to the formation of the UAR.3 In this regard, pan-Arabism was primarily used “as an instrument of policy makers rather than as a popular ideo­ logical objective in its own right.”4 Thus, the collapse of the union was related either to the disappearance of these factors and/or to the élite’s realization that the union did not fulfill its hopes. The realist school concentrates on Egypt’s expansionist motives. This approach contends that states are motivated by the pursuit of power and expan­ sion. It is a kind of social Darwinism, which drives them to engage in struggles 1

Introduction for self-aggrandizement.3According to this interpretation, Egypt’s urge to unite with Syria stemmed from its age-old desire to achieve regional hegemony through expansion. In its quest for power and domination, a union with Syria offered Egypt a foothold in the Fertile Crescent, regarded as a traditional Iraqi sphere of influence. Moreover, by controlling two fronts Egypt would be in a better position to pose a credible challenge to Israel - a necessary condition for any leader engaged in the quest for Arab hegemony.6 The fact that Egypt enjoyed advantages in terms of military and demographic capabilities over the other Arab states allowed it to pose a credible claim for regional pre-eminence.7 The neo-realist school emphasizes both Egypt’s and Syria’s security dilemma. This approach maintains that “it is the endless search for security, not power, that drives the behavior of the neorealist state.”8 It is possible that Egypt’s desire to control Syria emanated from fear of being attacked from the northeastern front. Vatikiotis claimed that ‘Abd al-Nasir has been conscious of Syria’s importance to Egypt’s security.9 Perhaps the establishment of a strong Israeli state on its eastern border intensified Egypt’s fears. Although these fears may have been unjustified by the mid-1950s, still a strong sense of historical vulnerability directed the thinking of the Egyptian leadership.10 Syria, for its part, suffered from two sources of external threat: fear of being attacked by Israel and fear of a communist coup backed by the Soviet Union. Although these fears seem in hindsight exaggerated, there are indications that they had genuinely affected the Syrian decision making. According to this interpretation, Syrian leaders assessed that in light of these threats their survival was assured only by finding refuge in a union with Egypt." As a historian, I find it difficult to favor a single cause, or school of thought, that supposedly has the decisive explanatory power.12 Instead, I tend to accept the plausibility of complex multi-causal explanations, which means that it is highly probable that in their union experiment Egypt and Syria were motivated by several, perhaps contradictory, considerations. Yet, in order to structure the sequence of events, the book concentrates on the role played by the Egyptian and Syrian élites. Without discounting other explanations, this study shows that Egyptian and Syrian élites, for various ideological, political and economic reasons, were largely responsible for the creation and downfall of the UAR. The composition of the élite groups and their patterns of behavior will be the focus of chapter 1. There are several factors that in principle militated against the very idea of an Egyptian-Syrian union.13 First, the physical absence of a mutual border, complicated by the fact that Israel - both Egypt’s and Syria’s enemy - separated the two countries, made integration a more difficult task. Second, Egyptians and Syrians underwent different historical developments that fostered their separate identities. For many centuries, the inhabitants of Egypt felt a vague 2

Introduction sense of attachment to their natural borders. Around the Egyptian Ottoman vilayet an Egyptian identity had emerged in the 19th century, based on elements of the Pharaonic and Islamic traditions; by the mid-1920s, then, the Egyptian national identity rested on a solid basis. The fact that the Arabs did not regard Egypt as part of the Arab world only accentuated this separate Egyptian iden­ tity. Only in the mid- 1930s did certain political and intellectual developments in the Middle East make Egyptians more aware of their Arab identity. In contrast, Syria was to a large extent an artificial entity created by the Western powers in 1920. During the French Mandate, Syrian identity was overshadowed by pan-Arabism, which had emerged in Damascus already in the late Ottoman period. Arab attempts to create a unified Arab state in the Fertile Crescent around Damascus or Baghdad eroded the legitimacy of successive Syrian governments. By the mid-1950s, Syrian identity was still unable to come to terms with the state’s truncated territory. Third, the different composition of the Egyptian and Syrian societies posed problems for establishing a shared political community. A relatively homogeneous society, Egypt was comprised of a Sunni Muslim majority (92 per cent) and a small and rather docile Coptic minority. Syria, in contrast, was a mosaic: Apart from a Sunni Muslim majority (70 per cent), Syria included diverse minorities such as the ‘Alawites ( 10 per cent), Druze (3 per cent), Greek Orthodox (4.5 per cent), Armenians (3.5 per cent), as well as small groups of Isma'ilis, Shi’ites, Jews, Nestorians, and others.14The existence of minorities, encouraged by France’s divisive colonial policy, fostered separatism and, eventually, weakened the central government’s ability to establish a Syrian political community. Thus, the absence of “ethnic tranquillity” - the knowledge that the bulk of the population share a single culture and history13- constituted a major cause of instability in Syria. Fourth, the differences between the Egyptian and Syrian economies meant that economic integration would be an arduous task. In Heikal’s terms, Syria was a “rain society” (mujtama' matar), whereas Egypt was a “river society” (imujtama ‘ nahr).16Wittfogel described Egypt as a “hydraulic society” in which all cultivation is dependent on the Nile as the sole source of irrigation.17 The economic need to maintain a centralized irrigation system necessitated sub­ stantial state involvement. This feature had political and economic ramifications since the Egyptians were more prone to accept strict central authority. The government was responsible for all export-import trade, construction, capital investment, and major production. Private activity was mainly dominated by non-Egyptians and was circumscribed by state controls. By the late 1950s, Egypt was rapidly moving toward socialism with growing emphasis on industrialization. In contrast, Syria depended mainly on uncertain rainfall, which substantially 3

Introduction affected crop yields. In commerce, the Syrians were noteworthy for their indi­ vidualism. They had acquired, in the words of George Haddad, “a remarkable ability in trade and business enterprise with an adventurous love of travel and a resourceful spirit of private initiative.”1* The effect was the emergence of a capitalist system, largely dependent on private Syrian entrepreneurs, with little state intervention. Egyptian-Syrian trade links were not impressive since various economic agreements facilitated the export of Syrian products to Lebanese, Jordanian, Iraqi, and Turkish markets. Indeed, the Egyptian and Syrian economies were competitive since they both relied on agricultural production, and cotton constituted their main export commodity.19 Above all, the per capita income in Syria was almost twice as high as in Egypt. Fifth, the political differences between Egypt and Syria assured that political integration would not be an easy task either. Egyptians were accus­ tomed to a highly centralized regime, and apathy and docility characterized the behavior of the average Egyptian in dealings with the government. When the Free Officers came to power in July 19S2, they established a presidential regime, which concentrated on building effective state agencies and a one-party system. The old landed élite had largely been eliminated, and a group of officers, coming from the lower middle class, headed by the charismatic Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir, controlled a highly bureaucratized regime that, while far from democratic or pluralistic, ensured stability and continuity.20 Syria, on the other hand, was seldom ruled by a unified and centralized administration, and even under foreign rule exercised a large measure of freedom and autonomy. The experience of the average Syrian with his rulers caused him to be astute, adaptable, suspicious, and inclined to shifting loyal­ ties. These traits, therefore, led some to conclude that the Syrians were “almost ungovernable.”21 By the mid-1950s, Syria still enjoyed a lively multi-party system, characterized by freedom of speech and activity. The system was dominated by the landed-commercial oligarchy; however, a counter-élite, consisting of the intelligentsia and army officers was challenging its authority. The absence of a strong political community and the polarization that brought about frequent army interventions in politics exacerbated Syria’s instability. The arguments mentioned above substantiate Kienle’s assertion that “state and imagined community were made to coincide in Egypt, whereas in Syria the state was described as only one part of a wider imagined community that included all Arabs or at least the entire population of Greater Syria.”22 Put differently, the level of “stateness” was considerably higher in Egypt than in Syria.23 Holsti claimed that the strength of states should be measured according to their capacity to command loyalty, to extract the resources necessary to rule and provide services, and their ability to maintain sovereignty and monopoly over the legitimate use of force within defined territorial limits.24 The most 4

Introduction critical variable in classifying states into strong and weak states, according to his analysis, is the existence of “horizontal” and “vertical” legitimacy.23 According to these criteria, the merger between Egypt and Syria was between a relatively “strong” state, enjoying some measure of institutional and charis­ matic legitimacy, and a “weak” state characterized by social fragmentation and parochial identifications.26 Such disparities did not augur well for the union. In addition, cultural differences existed between Egyptians and Syrians, as between other components (i.e. peoples) of the Arab nation. Differences in dialect, food, dress, individual temperament, as well as other aspects of everyday life, made the Egyptian and Syrian peoples distinct. Moreover, each perceived itself to be superior to the other. A journalist observed in 1958 that “the Syrians believe themselves smarter and more energetic than their Southern [Egyptian] cousins.”27 On the other hand, Egyptians felt that their cultural and political superiority was natural and inevitable.28 Finally, for the Syrians Middle Eastern history evoked unpleasant memories connected with Egypt. For 650 years (870-1520), Syria was the main target of Egyptian expansion. Two factors primarily motivated Egypt’s drang nach Osten policy: a desire to establish a buffer state protecting it from possible in­ vasions; and a simple desire for aggrandizement. The historian David Ayalon concluded that Egyptian attempts were “accompanied by the awareness of Egyptian absolute preponderance over Syria.”29 Referring to the Mamluk period (1258-1517), he concluded that “never in history was Syria ruled by Egypt for so long and with such a degree of thoroughness.”30 Under Ottoman rule, the most significant episode occurred during Muhammad ‘Ali’s rule. In 1831, Egyptian forces, under the command of his son Ibrahim Pasha, conquered the Ottoman territories of Syria.31 He described the occupation of Syria as “unification,” and the “beginning of the foundation of a great Arab state.”32 Although Ibrahim’s pretensions to represent the Arab race were very questionable, there is no denying that his harsh measures aroused the resentment of the Syrian population. An international ultimatum, as well as the rising of the Syrian people, finally brought the Egyptian occupation to an end in 1840. In concluding his analysis of this episode, the historian Tibawi remarked that “Muhammad ‘Ali had misjudged the Syrian character and did not realise how different it was from the Egyptian. He paid very dearly for his miscalculation.”33 Ibrahim’s occupation of Syria was contrary to the wishes of the local inhabitants, but interesting parallels with the UAR can be drawn.34 Here, however, it will suffice to mention that Syrians, conscious of their own history, could detect a clear Egyptian pattem of seeking to dominate Syria. Compared to the factors militating against the existence of an Egyptian-Syrian union, the factors that encouraged it were relatively modest. One of these was the widespread appeal of pan-Arabism, which generated a 5

Introduction unique Zeitgeist in the 19S0s that facilitated the formation of the union. Still, the short duration of the UAR perhaps suggests that this ideology was less entrenched and less powerful in Arab society than many believed. It is plausible, then, that shrewd élites used this ideology merely as a tool to achieve their aims, and that when the UAR stopped serving their interests, they brought about its fall. Until the mid-1950s, the evolution of pan-Arabism in Syria and Egypt was significantly different. Pan-Arab clubs already existed in Syria before World War I. Following the war, the Arab Kingdom of Faysal (1918-20), located at Damascus, was intended to become the nucleus of the great Arab State. With its dissolution, all unity schemes that flourished in the inter-war years centered around Syria. Moreover, many Syrians regarded their state an artificial entity, which should be integrated in a larger Arab state.33Syria was also the first to introduce in its constitution, promulgated in 1950, the declaration that the Syrian people is part of the whole Arab nation.36 In contrast, the pan-Arab movement made significant inroads into Egypt only in the mid- 1930s. Certain events in Egypt (e.g., independence in 1936) and in the Arab world (e.g., the Arab Revolt in Palestine, 1936-39) strengthened Egypt’s Arab identity.37 The ideas of Sati‘ al-Husri, the most important and prolific pan-Arab thinker, contributed to the spread of this ideology in Egypt. Already in 1936 he had asserted that “nature has provided Egypt with all the advantages to enable it to assume a leading role in the revival of Arab nationalism.”38 Drawing on the German and Italian models, Husri maintained that Egypt should “work for the realization of Arab unity as Prussia worked for German unity and as Peidmont worked for Italian unity.”39 With the advent of the Free Officers to power (July 1952) and the emergence of ‘Abd al-Nasir, pan-Arabism came to play a significant role in Egypt’s foreign policy. This change fostered Arab intellectuals to reiterate Husri’s call for Egypt to fill the role of the Arab “Prussia.”40 A second factor that facilitated a union was the charismatic nature of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s leadership. Max Weber defined charisma as “a certain quality of an individual personality by virtue of which he is set apart from ordinary men and treated as endowed with supernatural, superhuman, or at least specifically exceptional powers and qualities.”41 Scholars often applied this definition to ‘Abd al-Nasir; Dekmejian went so far as to describe the years 1957-61 in Egypt as a time of value transformation in which charismatic legitimacy was maximal and the use of force minimal.42 Although the existence or level of charisma cannot be accurately measured, there is ample evidence to show that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s leadership exerted a magnetic power over the Arabs, which served as a catalyst to the formation of the UAR. In other words, without ‘Abd al-Nasir “the ideology would not have gained the wide prominence and legitimacy it enjoyed.”43 Yet the foundations of a union depending primarily on the charis6

Introduction made nature of its leadership were bound to be shaky since charisma, as Weber himself admitted, must undergo a process of institutionalization in order to survive in the long run. A third possible incentive for an Egyptian-Syrian union was economic, namely the contrast that existed in arable land per capita. Whereas Egypt was already considered an over-populated country (26 million), with one of the highest population densities in the world (1,400 per square mile), Syria was under-populated (4.5 million), had a shortage of labor, and a surplus of land, especially in the northern Jazira area.44 A union might enable many Egyptian fellahin to settle in the empty Syrian lands, thus alleviating Egypt’s population problem. This idea, which was actually raised during the first days of the union, was never implemented in reality.45 Finally, the apparent resemblance of Egyptian and Syrian foreign policies since the mid-1950s seemed a convenient basis for unification. Their struggle against the Baghdad Pact that led to the signing of a military agreement in October 1955, their stand during the Suez Affair in 1956, their opposition to the Eisenhower Doctrine in early 1957, and their position during the Syrian crisis of summer 1957 revealed striking similarities. This prompted the Palestinianbom intellectual Tzzat Darwaza to assert that the first stage of the union should be based on Egypt and Syria. In his opinion, a union between the northern Arab pole (Syria) and the southern pole (Egypt) would facilitate the adherence of other Arab states.46 On balance, then, the prospects for a successful and lasting union did not seem promising. In terms of population, the merger was between large (Egypt) and small (Syria); in terms of state capabilities and level of state institutional­ ization, it was between strong (Egypt) and weak (Syria). Some of these difficulties were grasped at the time,47 but the enthusiasm for the union that engulfed the Arab world swept even those who raised doubts about its wisdom. What, then, led the parties to embark on a journey known to entail so many hazards?

Method and Sources The study is presented as a historical narrative, divided into chapters that deal with the political sphere and chapters that analyze the socioeconomic situation. This structure stemmed from the realization that only a combined consideration of the political and the socioeconomic spheres enables us to understand the UAR episode. Élite theory is used to structure the interpretation of the sequence of events. Historians of the modem Middle East agree that the UAR episode 7

Introduction constituted a watershed in the evolution of Arab politics. In spite of its short duration - only three and a half years - the UAR had a lasting impact on the development of the pan-Arab ideology and evolution of the Arab State. Therefore, it is more than surprising that no thorough research based on archival material - neither in Arabic nor in Western languages - has been written on this significant episode. All the studies mentioned above dealt with the UAR as an aspect of larger themes.48 Three reasons may account for this omission: first, lack of adequate sources that would shed light on the inner developments in the UAR. In particular, the closure of Western documents to public use until recently, and the inability to use Arab archives, discouraged many scholars. Second, it is possible that some reluctance existed, at least on the Arab side, to be critical of an episode that had become something of a myth in Arab eyes.49 Third, the lack of interest perhaps stemmed from the conviction that the Arab leaders were, by and large, insincere in their unity efforts.30 All in all, scholars largely neglected the UAR episode and its place as the most important unionist experience has hardly been reflected in the literature.31 This book aims to fill an important void in Middle Eastern scholarship. In spite of the inaccessibility of Arab archives, there is sufficient new material to offer a fresh outlook of the UAR episode. The book is primarily based on four Western archives, and it is complemented by the extensive use of available Arab sources: US National Archives: Because the United States was the most important Western superpower in the Middle East, the dispatches sent by the American ambassador in Cairo, and the consuls-general in Damascus and Aleppo, to the State Department, were highly important. The American diplomats were very informative, and well acquainted with the developments in the UAR. The docu­ ments clearly show that US involvement in the establishment of the UAR was significant. Canadian National Archives: A fairly unused archive in relation to the history of the Middle East, the Canadian documents contribute substantially to our understanding of the UAR. This was mainly because an able Canadian ambas­ sador, Arnold Smith, served in Cairo during a great part of the union. Brother of a well-known orientalist, Wilfred Cantwell Smith,32 Arnold was a talented diplomat and shrewd observer of events. Much appreciated by his foreign colleagues, he became closer than any other foreign diplomat to ‘Abd al-Nasir. Since the Canadians were not party to any conflict, the Egyptian president found him a trustworthy mediator and often confided in him.33 Even after Smith was transferred to Moscow, the Canadian reports from Cairo remained of high quality. 8

Introduction Public Records Office: The British documents, though helpful, attest to the declining role of the British in the Middle East. Having no access to either Egypt or Syria (diplomatic relations with both had been broken during the Suez Affair and resumed only in March 1961), the Foreign Office was compelled to rely on its sources in other Arab countries, such as Jordan, Lebanon, and Saudi Arabia. In addition, Canada - a member of the British Commonwealth - provided the Foreign Office with selected copies of dispatches sent by Arnold Smith. Israeli State Archive: Israeli documents usually analyze events in the Arab world through the prism of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Nevertheless, the infor­ mation obtained from the Research Department of the Foreign Ministry, and from various IDF intelligence reports based on secret sources, was valuable. In the case of the UAR, Israel had a special interest: the amalgamated army of Egypt and Syria and the union’s long borders theoretically constituted a greater threat than Israel had ever faced before. The intelligence branches of the Foreign Office and the army, therefore, made serious attempts to acquire as much infor­ mation as possible, which is reflected in the relatively rich Israeli records of the UAR. Arab Sources: In the absence of accessible Arab archives, the main sources in Arabic were memoirs, newspapers, interviews, and speeches. Memoirs published during the last forty years by leading personalities who took part in the events are particularly important. On the Egyptian side, we should mention, inter alia, Hasanin Heikal, Mahmud Riad, ‘Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, Anwar al-Sadat, Sayyid Mari* and Tharwat ‘Ukasha; on the Syrian side, Khalid al*Azm, Ahmad ‘Abd al-Karim, Khalil Kallas, Salah al-Din al-Bitar, Akram Hourani, Sami al-Jundi, Mahmud ‘Umran, Muta* al-Safadi, and Jasim ‘Alwan. Arab newspapers, especially the relatively-firee Lebanese press (e.g., al-Hayat), were important; the Egyptian press (e.g., al-Ahram, al-Akhbar, Akhbar alYawm, Ruz al-Yusuf) and the Syrian press (e.g., al-Ayyam) were helpful in understanding the government’s official position. Semi-academic journals (e.g., al-Hilal, al- ’Adab) were important for analyzing the position of the intel­ lectuals. Interviews and speeches made by ‘Abd al-Nasir and other officials shed further light on state policy, as well as on their world-view. Finally, the minutes of the Tripartite Talks (between Egypt, Syria, and Iraq), published in 1963, revealed much information on the UAR episode. Finally, as a historian I am aware of the fallibility and deficiency of the histori­ cal record, the selectivity inherent in the writing of history, and the subjectivity of the historian. Still, I do not share the postmodernist view that all of history is flawed, and that “because there is no absolute, total truth, there can be no 9

Introduction partial, contingent truths.”54 Instead, I tend to agree with David Lowenthal who asserted that “no absolute historical truth lies waiting to be found; however assiduous and fair-minded the historian, he can no more relate the past ‘as it really was’ than can our memories.” He concluded, however, that “history is not thereby invalidated; faith endures that historical knowledge casts some [his emphasis] light on the past, that elements of truth persist in it.”55




Elite Politics in Syria and Egypt

Defining the Élite There is little consensus among social scientists about the definition of an élite. Generally, the élite theoretical model of politics is based on the premise that “societal power is concentrated in élite groups that control the resources of key social institutions and are not accountable to the masses. The composition of the élites and the basis of their power may vary at different times and in different societies, but the essential fact of élite rule remains unchanged.”1The first two classic theorists of élites, Pareto and Mosca, asserted that in any society there is a minority - a “political class” (Mosca) or “governing élite” (Pareto) - which rules over the rest of the society. This élite is composed of those who occupy the posts of political command and those who can directly influence political decisions. Changes in the composition of the élite - Pareto termed this process the “circulation of élites” - may occur in three different ways: the recruitment of new individual members from the lower strata of the society; the incorpora­ tion of new social groups; or the complete replacement of the established élite by a counter-élite following a revolution.2 In contrast to Pareto’s sharp distinction between the élite and the masses, Mosca described society as a three-layer pyramid. His “political class” included two groups: a “ruling élite” and a “sub-élite.” Composed of technocrats, managers and civil servants, the role of the sub-élite was to provide recruits for the ruling élite. In Mosca’s opinion, “the stability of any political organism depends on the level of morality, intelligence and activity that this stratum has attained.”3 Both Mosca and Pareto regarded the élite as an organized minority that feels a moral obligation toward its society and is characterized by homo­ geneity, cohesion, and self-consciousness. The existence of these attributes assured the élite’s continued place at the top of the political hierarchy.4 In sustaining their power, élites tend to use ideology that express the spirit of the time. “No political class,” Mosca stated, “will say outright that it rules because . . . its members are the ones most fit to rule. Instead, that class will 11

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt always try to justify its power on the ground of an abstraction which we shall call the political formula.”s Contemporary political scientists refined and revised these classical theories. For our purposes, however, it is suffice to emphasize three things: first, in contrast to the view that regarded the masses as apathetic, incompetent, and unwilling or unable to govern themselves, the contemporary elitists saw them as manipulated and exploited by élites who rule in their own interests. Second, in describing élites’ control of key power resources, the new elitists emphasized the use of the communication system, which enabled élites “to regulate the flow of ideas and information, and engineer public opinion in their favor.’’6 Third, some of the new elitists questioned the cohesiveness of the élite. They acknowl­ edged that in modem societies there was a considerable division of labor within the élite. Keller suggested the term “strategic élites’’ for these functionally differentiated groups at the top of the pyramid of power.7 Indeed, Putnam concluded, “we must make no a priori assumption about the cohesion, consciousness, or autonomy of particular strata. In some countries the top echelon may be a closed, cohesive caba l. . . while elsewhere it may be open and competitive.”8 The analysis of Egyptian and Syrian élites in this book would be based on the definitions made by Bottomore. He used Mosca’s term, the “political class,” to refer to “all those groups which exercise political power or influence, and are directly engaged in struggles for political leadership.” This class includes the political élite: “those individuals who actually exercise political power in a society at any given time.” The latter includes members of the government and of the high administration, military leaders, and in some cases politically influ­ ential families and leaders of powerful economic enterprises. In addition to the political élite, the political class may include counter-élites: leaders of political parties who are out of office and representatives of new social interests or classes. The political class, then, is comprised of “a number of groups, which may be engaged in varying degrees of cooperation, competition or conflict with each other.”9

Middle Eastern Élites The study of élites in the Middle East is a rather neglected field. A lack of em­ pirical data and other methodological problems account for this omission.10 Nevertheless, the existing literature clearly shows no marked differences between élites in the Middle East and in other developing countries." Moreover, it seems that there were striking similarities between Arab élites in the late Ottoman period and in the first half of the 20th century.12In traditional 12

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt Middle Eastern societies, descent, wealth and religious knowledge or function constituted the basis for acquiring élite status both in villages and in urban areas. In modem societies, however, élites were “more educated, more dependent on salaried income, and more secular than their predecessors.” In other words, skills and education became necessary attributes of the élite. Hence, traditional élites that desired to maintain their status found it necessary to acquire defined skills.13 In the late 1940s, the attributes that constituted the basis of Middle Eastern élites, and of Arab élites in particular, were largely traditional and the gap between these élites and the masses was wide. Lasswell’s definition of the élite - “those who get the most of what there is to g e t . . . [while] the rest is the mass” - is certainly relevant to the Arab world.14 Yet, the traditional élites were constantly challenged by rising counter-élites, which emerged as a result of the modernization process that took place during the inter-war years. The traditional groups of the élite - landowners, merchants, bureaucrats, and clergy - were either joined or challenged by the intelligentsia and the army. The army in particular was a useful vehicle for social ascension by the less privileged. With the withdrawal of the mandatory powers, the army became involved in politics by exercising effective political power or by dominating the system behind the scenes.13 The introduction of new groups into the élite was by no means easy or smooth. In fact, the traditional élites were often inclined to block the entrance of new members, who could have challenged their position in society. Consequently, a common feature of Middle Eastern societies was a low circu­ lation of élites.16Yet, since the stability of the political system largely depended on its ability to absorb rising new élites, the old élite was compelled to receive members of counter-élites, who accepted the “rules of the game.” This process led to two developments: first, countries that did not undergo political revol­ utions (such as Syria) witnessed a transitional period in which the old élite and counter-élites attempted to cooperate. Second, since many young aspirants on the margins of the élite were not willing to play by the rules of the game, in­ stability became a familiar pattern of the political system in those Arab countries. The precariousness of these regimes was further accentuated by intra-élite rivalries. In the words of Van Nieuwenhuijze, “once you are a member of a Middle Eastern élite you will still have to vie with your colleagues for the best morsels.”17 The existence of intra-élite conflicts meant that in contrast to the West, Middle Eastern élites often were not agents of convergence. Instead of being an agent of integration in setting, divulging, and upholding a set of socio­ cultural norms, the various groups of the élite usually competed rather than integrated.18 13

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt

The Syrian Élite In the mid-1950s, the Syrian political élite was still dominated by the Sunni Muslim landowners. This traditional group - the “land-owning bureaucratic class” - was largely a product of socioeconomic developments in the Ottoman Empire during the 18th and 19th centuries. Defined by Philip Khoury as “a fairly well integrated network of propertied and office-holding urban families,” this class produced the political leadership in the Syrian provinces of the Ottoman Empire.'9 With the formation of modem Syria under the French mandate, the leader­ ship role of the land-owning class remained basically unchanged. Land revenues continued to constitute a major source of income though many land­ lords immigrated to the city, thus becoming urban absentee landowners.20 Naturally, wealth gave landowners greater access to higher - often foreign education. That, in turn, explained this group’s proclivity to adopt Westernstyle institutions, so long as these were compatible with its traditional ways of exercising power and preserving its vested interests. Thus, by the mid-1950s, the close ties that had existed between large-scale land-ownership and political power remained largely intact.21 An interesting attribute of this group was its espousal of Arab nationalism. Since World War I, landowners increasingly replaced “Ottomanism” with Arabism, which was found a useful ideology in safeguarding their interests. This group, as Khoury pointed out, was the first to turn the dormant idea of Arabism into a vehicle for expressing their grievances against Istanbul, and later against the French, as a means of retaining their positions.22 The landowning élite was a fairly closed circle; Van Dusen described it as “the club of fifty fami­ lies.”23 Members of this club, in urban and rural centers, derived their political power from their economic resources and professional skills. Damascus was dominated by ‘Azm, Yusuf, Mardam-Beg, Quwwatli, Barudi, ‘Ajlani, Ghazzi, Hasibi, Kaylani, and Jaza’iri; Aleppo by Jabiri, Kayyali, Qudsi, Rifa‘i, Mudarris, Kikhya, Nayyal, and Hanunu; Hama by ‘Azm, Kaylani, Barudi, and Tayfur; and Homs by Atasi, Jundi, Raslan, Suwaydan, Husayni, Akhrass, and Dandashi.24 A second component of the economic élite was the wealthy merchants. This “commercial bourgeoisie” was composed of two groups: the first, Christian and Jewish moneylenders who emerged as local agents of European trading houses; the second, Muslim merchants who had little or no access to foreign capital. The latter group was divided into local distributors and exporters of indigenous products (e.g., soap, textiles, and leather); and merchants who specialized in the domestic and regional trade of cash crops (e.g., wheat, fruits, and livestock).23 Historically, the Muslim commercial bourgeoisie had never been an 14

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt autonomous group; it was closely connected with the interests of the landowning class through financial transactions (e.g., the provision of loans and seed), the marketing of crops, and through marriage. These economic and personal links often evolved into a growing political interdependence.26 Like the landowners, prominent Muslim merchants became ideologically committed to Arab nationalism. Thus, the social differentiation between landowners and merchants was, according to Khoury, “less a matter of material wealth than it was of profession and social prestige, of education, culture, and politics.”27 The closed nature of the “agrarian-commercial” élite reinforced a vague sense of class solidarity vis-à-vis the emergent middle class.28 Yet city and family rivalries often predominated, thus hindering the emergence of class consciousness. The most noteworthy division was between Damascus and Aleppo, and it constituted a major obstacle to political integration in modem Syria. During the Ottoman period, both cities served as provincial capitals with different political traditions and economic orientations. Damascus was a large market center for its more immediate vegetable orchards and fruit gardens, as well as the regions of the Hawran and the Biqa‘. It maintained trading links with northern Palestine, and Beirut was as an important outlet to the Mediterranean. On the other hand, Aleppo served as a market center for northern Syria, north­ western Iraq, and southeastern Anatolia. Alexandretta was Aleppo’s outlet to the Mediterranean.29 This rivalry was further intensified by Aleppo’s political subordination to Damascus, the capital during the mandate period. Following independence, this rivalry was reflected in the formation of the Damascusbased National Party with its Egyptian orientation, and the Aleppo-based People’s Party with its Iraqi orientation.30 The economic wealth of the Syrian élite, which was translated into political power, enabled both the landowners and the merchants to hinder significant economic changes that would jeopardize their position. Naturally, the language of nationalism accented such terms as constitutionalism, parliamentarism, and freedom from foreigners; social and economic reforms, however, were never seriously discussed.31 During the French mandate, Syria’s laissez-faire economy suffered from the lack of private investment in industry. Traditionally, the Syrian élite preferred investing profits in urban real estate, agricultural lands, consumption, or in hoarding gold.32 But during and after World War II, certain political and economic changes took place within the élite. The landowners suffered a loss of economic power as a result of measures by the Allies to gain control of grain and wheat production, thus keeping prices artificially low. On the other hand, merchant and landowning entrepreneurs who turned to industry prospered. Industries that were not dependent on foreign raw materials and could meet local demand - such as the textile industry - were successful in particular.33 15

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt Others - Warriner termed them “the merchant-tractorists” - made vast profits from expanding the land under cultivation, notably in the northern Jazira area. Within a short time, close to a million acres were cultivated in this area.34 Politically, the new landowner and merchant entrepreneurs became influential after Syria’s independence. Some successful politicians were either industrialists themselves (such as Shukry al-Quwwatli) or closely tied to them (such as Khalid al-‘Azm), and represented industrial interests in the government.33The most prominent industrial group to emerge after World War II was known as the Company of Five (al-Sharika al-Khumasiyya). Founded in 1946, it derived its name from the five constituent family firms that together exercised considerable influence over the Syrian economy. The five owners were Badr al-Din Diab, ‘Abd al-Hadi Rabbath, ‘Abd al-Hamid Diab, Muhammad ‘Adil Khoja, and Anwar al-Kutb. They controlled industrial projects of textiles, cement, sugar refining, soap, glass, and petroleum.36 Although this group shied away from political activity, we shall see that its influence on decision making during the UAR was crucial. Another development after the war was the crystallization of a Syrian counter-élite, which began to challenge the position of the old conservative élite. The new counter-élite, which had been emerging from the new insti­ tutions (secondary schools, modem professional syndicates, and universities), was more heterogeneous in composition, and included the professionals, intelligentsia, educated youth, the middle levels of the bureaucracy, and later army officers - in short, the salaried middle class. By attaining education, nonSunnis such as Christians, Kurds, Druze, and ‘Alawites gained access to this counter-élite as well.37The vanguard of this counter-élite coalesced around the League of National Action (‘Usbat al-'Amal al-Qawmi).3t Although some of its members belonged to the landowning class, the League attracted many schoolteachers. This organization is regarded as “the ideological parent of the Ba‘th Party.”39 In 1947, the Ba‘th was established by three European-educated young teachers, Zaki al-Arsuzi, Michel ‘Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. Since the early 1950s, this party challenged the old élite since it occupied “a strategic new terrain” between the masses and the oligarchy. To gain legitimacy, the rising counter-élite tended to adopt radical ideas and to propagate them through the extensive use of public communications.40 The Syrian counter-élite also included young army officers. Although the military was historically an important component of the traditional Arab élite, this was not the case in mandatory Syria. Families of the Syrian élite refused to send their sons to the army because it was considered a socially inferior insti­ tution, and because it was controlled and managed by the French. However, the army had become a major instrument for the young, ambitious male from the middle or lower-middle class to ascend the social ladder and replace the old 16

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt élite. Some of the officers came from lesser branches of leading urban families, which resented the more socially prominent and wealthier civilian leaders. To forestall a transformation of the political system, the civilian government substantially reduced the size of the army during the years 1946-48. By 1946, for example, only two hundred officers served in the Syrian army.41 The military coup of Colonel Husni al-Za‘im in March 1949 heralded a new era, in which the army came to play a growing role in Syrian politics. This involvement became a permanent feature of the political system during the 1950s. Even after Colonel Adib al-Shishakli, the military dictator, was deposed in February 1954 and a civilian government reinstated, the army still consti­ tuted an important political factor behind the scenes.42 Yet it is important to note that some of the officers who had led the coups of the 1950s had “excellent connections with the notables and officials.” Moreover, the earliest group that centered around Shishakli included scions of distinguished Sunni families. These officers, especially from Hama (such as Akram al-Hourani), played leading roles in Syria until the early 1960s.43 The officers were particularly successful in penetrating the Ba‘th party. Dawn claimed that in adopting, and eventually taking over, a civilian party, the officers followed the Young Turk model of the Ottoman Empire.44 Young officers joined the Ba‘th for a variety of reasons: first, the party offered - or presumed to - a systematic, comprehensive political ideology centered around Arab unity. Second, the Ba‘th espousal of socialist ideas attracted the less-wellto-do officers who hoped to topple the old élite. Third, it was hardly surprising that a disciplined officer would find an organized party, with branches, members, and institutions, more to his taste. The Ba‘th influence among army officers grew steadily after Shishakli’s overthrow in February 1954, reaching its peak in the period before the union with Egypt.43 Yet the fact that Sunni officers from well-to-do families dominated the army during the 1950s brought Dawn to conclude that “the soldiers and the Ba'thists, military and civilians, who came to dominate Syria after 1949, had close ties with the old regime.”46 If so, that would have serious repercussions on the formation and dissolution of the UAR. Until the late 1950s, low circulation of personalities characterized the Syrian political élite. The original core of landowning nationalists, according to Lemer, “exhibited amazing homogeneity and longevity” in Syrian political life.47 An analysis of Syrian deputies and cabinet ministers between 1919 and 1959 showed that only 145 individuals filled the total o f 360 posts in the various cabinets. Between the years 1946-58, 90 individuals, most from the landowning and mercantile élites, filled the 208 ministerial positions.48 Since some politicians were related by blood and marriage, Winder came to the conclusion that Syria was almost literally governed by “ 100 families” during 17

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt the period under review.49 The pattern of low circulation of the élite changed drastically with the formation of the United Arab Republic in February 1958.50 In conclusion, by the mid-1950s the Syrian political system was still dom­ inated by the old landowning and mercantile élite. Yet it was already challenged by a counter-élite, which succeeded in making some inroads into the “closed club” of élite families. This development was reflected in the composition of the 1954 chamber of deputies. In the September-October elections, held following Shishakli’s overthrow, the power of the People’s Party declined, whereas the Ba‘th was considerably strengthened, receiving 16 seats of 142 as compared to only one seat in the 1949 elections.31 The relative power of the Ba‘th was even greater since it enjoyed the support of key army officers who remained a crucial factor in the Syrian political system. Michael Van Dusen concluded that the history of Syria from 1949 to the early 1960s should be seen as a struggle between “the political brokers of the older, more wealthy families, and those new politically ambitious elements with specific programs seeking to undermine the exclusive power of the older brokers.”32 Indeed, the formation and destruction of the UAR should be seen in this context. The union resulted, among other things, from a political struggle between the old élite and the emerging new counter-élite. In light of the in­ stability generated by this struggle, a union with Egypt offered a temporary relief for the warring groups and the public.33 This line of thinking dovetails with Khoury’s assertion that although the age of “politics of notables” gave way to a different kind of politics, this did not happen suddenly, and the old élite was able to hold on for nearly twenty years after Syria’s independence.34

The Egyptian Élite Like in Syria, an old conservative élite dominated Egypt’s political system until the overthrow of the monarchy by the Free Officers in July 1952. It was composed of four groups: king and his court, the landowners, the Wafd national leadership (most of whom were landowners themselves), and the religious establishment. Wealth and education constituted the main social and economic bases of political power. Recruitment into and politics within the élite were based almost exclusively on ties of kinship and marriage.33 The counter-élite that challenged the old landed oligarchy during the monarchy included two elements: the Muslim Brotherhood and the fascist-type organization of Young Egypt. The inability of this counter-élite to alter the status quo led to the emer­ gence of a third group - the army - which somewhat reluctantly became the main instrument of change in Egyptian politics. Taking into account Egypt’s long history of foreign occupation, the military 18

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt officers could be regarded as the “first native group to rule Egypt since the last pharaoh.” This fact, asserted Dekmejian, bestowed considerable legitimacy on them.36This unique position explains the ability of the Free Officers to success­ fully break the economic and political power of the landed élite and abolish the monarchy with little opposition. The first goal was largely achieved through the introduction of a radical agrarian reform law (September 1952), which sub­ stantially reduced the size of holdings that landowners were allowed to possess. As a result, the old élite was economically dispossessed, socially displaced, and politically overthrown.37 The success of this reform in Egypt would lead ‘Abd al-Nasir in 1958 to mistakenly think that a similar reform in the Syrian province of the UAR would be equally successful. Small and homogeneous in its composition, the emerging military élite showed a strong sense of cohesiveness. It included twenty-five officers divided into two groups. The first was a core of eleven officers who formed the Revolutionary Command Council: Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir, ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir, Zakaria Muhi al-Din, ‘Abd al-Latif Baghdadi, Kamal al-Din Husayn, Khalid Muhi al-Din, Husayn al-Shafi‘, Anwar al-Sadat, Hasan Ibrahim, and the brothers Salah and Gamal Salem. This group formed a biological, as well as a sociological, generation unit. Only one officer was a scion of the old landed élite (‘Amir) and only two (including ‘Abd al-Nasir) came from an urban neighborhood. Bom between 1917 and 1922, all the officers were graduates of the Military Academy (1938-40) and most of them also attended the Military Staff College (1948-53).38 Beyond the inner core stood an outer rim of fourteen Free Officers: Tharwat ‘Ukasha, Kamal Rifa‘t, ‘Abbas Radwan, the brothers ‘Ali and Zu al-Fiqar Sabri, ‘Abd al-Qader Hatem, Mahmud Riad, ‘Abd al-Muhsim Abu al-Nur, Sidqi Sulayman, Mahmud Yunis, Amin Huwaydi, Sha'arawi Guma‘a, Muhammad Fawzi, and ‘Abd al-Wahhab Bishri.39 The social and economic background of this group was largely similar to the core group. Only ‘Ukasha and the Sabri brothers came from the old ruling class and were exposed to European influences.60Dekmejian listed a third circle of twenty-three relatively unknown and younger Free Officers, who had come under Nasirite influence at the Military Academy. They entered the political system only in the 1960s.61 The British “occupation” constituted the most significant formative period in shaping the Free Officers’ world-view. The 1936 Anglo-Egyptian Treaty and the British ultimatum to the king in February 1942 particularly humiliated Egyptian nationalists. Even more traumatic was the army’s poor performance in the 1948 war. ‘Abd al-Nasir himself, as well as ‘Amir, Zakariyya Muhi alDin, ‘Ukasha, and Salah Salem, were entrapped in the Faluja enclave for several months. All these formative events made the army more prone to intervene in politics, aiming to change the status quo.62 The consecutive military coups in 19

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt Syria since 1949 most probably affected the Egyptian army, which had no tradi­ tion of involvement in politics. At the same time, the widening gap in Egyptian society between the haves and have-nots became another catalyst for the officers - representing the interests of the lower middle class - to intervene politically. “ The motivation of the Free Officers for status and national achieve­ ment,” wrote Vatikiotis, “coincided with that of the rising new social and economic classes in civilian society. Both groups were ‘outs’ in relation to the ruling class; both sought to become ‘ins’ or at least to influence the ruling class.”63 The political and economic measures of 1952-54 virtually destroyed the old landed élite. The new élite was comprised primarily of officers and civilians who sympathized with the new military regime. Ties of kinship and marriage, which had been so important in the process of élite recruitment before 1952, were replaced by a sense of belonging to the d u fa h and the shilla.6* Politically, the change of the élite was reflected in the composition of Egyptian cabinets since 1952, which showed a proportionally high representation of military or former military officers. The rest of the ministers were civilian technocrats who lacked an independent power base and thus did not challenge the officers’ predominant political role. The civilians usually received ministries that required some technical expertise (such as public works, health, irrigation, agri­ culture, treasury, industry, etc.). Prominent civilians who served the Free Officers included Mahmud Fawzi (foreign affairs), ‘Abd al-Mun‘im alQaysuni (treasury and finance), Nur al-Din al-Tarraf (health), Sayyid Mari1 (agriculture), ‘Aziz Sidqi (industry), and Fathi Radwan (minister of state). To preclude any deviation from their policy, the Free Officers maintained a mili­ tary presence in the civilian-led ministries by placing ex-officers in the roles of deputy minister or under-secretary. In the long run, ex-officers who received nonmilitary diplomas in some needed technical areas filled these civilian posts.65 With the promulgation of the constitution and the election of ‘Abd al-Nasir as president in the summer of 1956, the core group of the Free Officers became even more cohesive. Baghdadi, Zakariyya Muhi al-Din, ‘Amir, Shafi‘, and Kamal al-Din Husayn received central ministerial portfolios; Sadat, Ibrahim and Gamal Salem attained important posts outside the government.66 Of the inner circle, ‘Abd al-Nasir mostly confided in his old-time friend, ‘Amir, entrusting him with delicate missions (such as his appointment as governor of Syria during the union). ‘Abd al-Nasir also relied on a small coterie of advisers such as Mahmud Riad (ambassador to Syria, 1955-58, and adviser on Syrian affairs during the union), and prominent journalists such as Muhammad Hasanin Heikal and the brothers Mustafa and ‘Ali Amin. The division between the inner and the outer circles was loose, allowing certain ex-officers (such as 20

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt the Sabri brothers and Kamal Rifa't) to move closer to the president whenever time and circumstances necessitated it. Vatikiotis asserted in this respect that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s relations with others were “always tentative, guided by his power needs and conditional upon his ability to dominate them.”67 This state­ ment should be qualified by the observation that some measure of loyalty did exist among the Free Officers, and certainly among their inner circle, which partially explains the stability and longevity of the regime. The charismatic nature of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s leadership was a source of both cohesion and friction for the Egyptian military élite. During the initial phase of the revolution, his position vis-à-vis his colleagues was one of primus inter pares. However, the events of 1955-56 (the rejection of the Baghdad Pact, the Bandung Conference, the Czech arms deal, and the Suez War) “propelled the Egyptian president to a position of universal visibility unprecedented in Egyptian-Arab history since the rise of Salah al-Din.”68 These events, while strengthening the legitimacy of the military élite, made ‘Abd al-Nasir a

Table 1.1

The Egyptian and Syrian élites: comparative observations Syrian Élite

Egyptian Élite


A mixture of traditional and modem élite comprised of landowners, industrialists, wealthy merchants, army officers and intellectuals (the Ba'th Party)

A modem élite comprised of army officers and civilian technocrats identified with the military


A diversified élite with low level of cohesion as a result of personal, familial, urban and confessional rivalries

A relatively homogeneous and cohesive élite led by a charismatic leader

Type of Regime

Highly unstable, civilian parliamentary republic, with army involvement behind the scenes

Stable, quasi-civilianized, presidential republic, with one-party system*

Agent of Convergence

No; the components of the élite compete rather than integrate

Yes; attempting to create a new set of socio-cultural norms


Largely conservative


* The term “quasi-civilianized" is taken from S. E. Finer, The Man on Horseback (London: 1962 ), p. 186.


Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt powerful and charismatic leader setting him above and apart from his old companions. He also increasingly relied on himself to make major decisions. It was only natural that some officers would find it psychologically difficult to adjust to ‘Abd al-Nasir’s new behavior. This bitterness and jealousy among the Free Officers occasionally caused intra-élite cleavages. Most of the serious disputes, however, came to the fore only in the 1960s, after the dissolution of the UAR.69 Table 1.1 offers comparative profiles of the Egyptian and Syrian élites. In theoretical terms, the post-1952 Egyptian élite largely resembled Mosca’s élite model (see figure 1.1). At the top of the pyramid stood a ruling élite comprised of a small, close, and homogeneous group of Free Officers. Beneath, a sub-élite of technocrats, managers, and civil servants faithfully served the ruling élite. These two groups constituted what Mosca termed “the political class.”70The pre-1958 Syrian élite, on the other hand, represented a completely different model. It included a small circle of a ruling élite, comprised of competing individuals, who belong to a larger circle of competing élite groups (military, religious, industrial, mercantile, landowning, and professional - see figure 1.2).71 The differences between the pyramidal nature of Egyptian élite and the concentric nature of the Syrian élite, as shown above, explain some major




Egyptian élite (post-1952)

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt

developments leading to the rise of the UAR as well as the obstacles leading to its disintegration. First, the fact that Syria’s élite was composed of several, heterogeneous and often competing groups caused domestic instability and constituted an important factor in its quest for unification with Egypt. These Syrian intra-élite rivalries in late 1957 resulted, among other things, in the formation of the UAR. On the other hand, the existence of a cohesive Egyptian élite, under the charismatic leadership of ‘Abd al-Nasir, contributed to the stability of the Egyptian regime and consequently offered a haven from the rivalries that plagued Syria’s political system. Second, the different nature of the Egyptian and Syrian élites, in addition to the historical, demographic, polit­ ical, economic, and cultural differences, meant that the process of élite integration would be arduous, if not altogether impossible. Once the initial 23

Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt euphoria from the union evaporated, ‘Abd al-Nasir was surprised to find out that the various groups of the Syrian élite were keen on preserving their assets and resources. They were also attached to their Syrian identity more strongly than initially expected. Consequently, this élite refused to lose its privileged position within the Syrian region by absorbing in the new UAR élite, which was predominantly Egyptian-bom. Thus, the inter-élite rivalries between the Egyptian and Syrian élites, which commenced shortly after the inauguration of the UAR, eventually brought about its dissolution.




The Road to the Union

The Syrian Attitude toward Arab Unity In April 1946, with the termination of the French mandate, Syrian national identity still did not strike roots. In contrast, pan-Arabism, which emerged in the inter-war years as the main ideology of the wealthy and educated élites,1 continued to play a significant role in the Syrian political system in the post­ independence era. Arab unity schemes, centered around Damascus, remained potent as ever, threatening the very existence of the new Syrian polity and further weakening its identity.2Successive Syrian governments, which suffered from lack of legitimacy, attempted to strengthen their position by using panArabism. Thus, the platforms of the National and People’s parties traditionally the two largest parties in Syrian parliaments - advocated Arab unity.3 At the same time, however, the leaders of both parties were hardly en­ thusiastic about surrendering Syria’s independence, which meant losing their privileged status in Syria. This ambiguous position toward Arab unity led in September 1950 to the drafting of a constitution which declared for the first time that the Syrian people (sha'b) was part of the Arab nation (umma). It also determined that the presi­ dent and members of parliament were to swear, before assuming office, to “work for the achievement of the unity of the Arab countries.”4 Shortly after­ ward, in early 1951, Prime Minister Nazim al-Qudsi, a member of the People’s Party, presented the first concrete plan for the unification of the Arab states. In his project he suggested three types of association: confederation, federation and a unitary state, of which the latter, termed “the United Arab State” (alDawla al-Muttahida al- ‘Arabiyya), was his preferred option. His plan, Husri averred, constituted “a genuine expression of public opinion in the Greater Syria area” (bilad al-sha’m).5 In the post-independence era, the main force advocating unity was the Arab Socialist Ba‘th Party (ASBP), which became the third largest party in parlia­ ment following the elections of September-October 1954. Although the 25

The Road to the Union right-wing People’s and National parties still dominated parliament, the most important trend that emerged in the elections was increased left-wing strength.6 The ASBP’s relative success was attributed to the merger in 1953 between the Arab Socialist Party of Akram al-Hourani, a charismatic political leader from Hama, and the Ba‘th Party, headed by Michel ‘Aflaq and Salah al-Din al-Bitar. The party’s primary aim, as reflected in its constitution, was the unification of the Arab states stretching from the Taurus Mountains to the Sahara.7 Yet the Ba’th’s version of Arab unity was not necessarily identical with Qudsi’s vision of a unitary state. Its constitution remained rather vague about the nature of association between the various components of the Arab State, declaring that it would have a “constitutional parliamentary regime” and an administrative system based on decentralization.8 Other Arab intellectuals in the Greater Syria area, however, defined more clearly the desired political system of the future Arab State in the pre-1958 period. The most important Arab thinker, Sati‘ al-Husri, was strongly in favor of applying the US federal model to the Arab world.9 Likewise, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz, an Iraqi pan-Arab intellectual, asserted that the ideal system for the Arab countries was a federal one.10Nabih Amin Faris, a Lebanese pan-Arab intellectual, arrived at the same conclusion. In 1957, only a year before the creation of the UAR, he thought that a complete Arab merger was unthinkable in light of the problems in the Arab states and the antagonistic inter­ ests of their élites. He recommended, therefore, the creation of a federal union between four units: the Fertile Crescent (including Iraq, Syria, Jordan and Palestine), the Arabian Peninsula (including Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other shiekhdoms), the Nile Valley (including Egypt, Sudan and Libya), and the Arab West (including Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia). This federation - called “the United Arab States” (al-Wilayyat al-Muttahida al- ‘Arabiyya) - would serve as a means to achieve complete Arab unity." Finally, the Palestinian pan-Arab intellectual ‘Izzat Darwaza, suggested several forms of federation (such as the American, Soviet and Indian models), but did not recommend any specific model for the Arab state. He did, however, suggest the establishment of a feder­ ation (ittihad) between Egypt and Syria as a first step toward the realization of a comprehensive union (wahda shamila).'2 Thus, in the pre-1958 period Arab intellectuals agreed almost unanimously that in light of the geographical, climatic, economic, political, and even linguistic differences between various parts of the “Arab homeland,” the federal system was appropriate for the Arab State. This influenced the Ba’th when it reached the stage of negotiating with Egypt. At first, the Ba’th did not consider Egypt a suitable partner for a union. Even when the Free Officers, headed by ‘Abd al-Nasir, seized power and abolished the monarchy, the Ba‘th remained skeptical. ‘Aflaq even denounced Egypt’s dictatorial regime, criticizing ‘Abd 26

The Road to the Union al-Nasir for his lukewarmness toward the Arab world.13 Events in 19SS, however, led the party to change its position: Egypt’s struggle against the Baghdad Pact, its role in the Bandung Conference and the signing of the Czech arms deal convinced it that pan-Arabism had become a major component of Egypt’s foreign policy. These events also led to the transformation of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s image, turning him into a “revolutionary” and “progressive” Arab leader capable of implementing Ba‘th ideas. Fourteen years earlier, ‘Abdallah al-Alayili, a Lebanese pan-Arab intellectual, emphasized the need of the Arab national movement for “a powerful and violent” leader capable of galvanizing the masses.14 Although in 1941 not many Arabs were acquainted with his ideas, by the mid-1950s, with the rise of ‘Abd al-Nasir as a charismatic leader, alAlayili’s ideas became better known. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s rise also coincided with a Syrian (and general Arab) sense of disorientation and loss of confidence, which stemmed from the humiliation suffered in the 1948 War and the old élite’s inability to cope with the state’s formidable problems in the post­ colonial period. These developments led Bitar to call in 1955 for the establishment of a feder­ ation (ittihad) between Egypt and Syria, which would be “the beginning of the road to Arab unity.” 15 That year, then, marked a new phase in Ba‘th -‘Abd alNasir relations, termed by Mustafa Dandishli the “unconditional support phase.”16 As the Ba‘th Party increased its influence within the Syrian govern­ ment in 1956, the question of a Syrian-Egyptian association became more acute than ever.

The Egyptian Attitude toward Arab Unity In contrast to Syria, pan-Arabism in Egypt emerged as an ideological and polit­ ical force only in the mid-1930s.17 In spite of its growing popularity, by the beginning of the 1950s the Egyptian identity was still dominant. Thus, when Syrian Prime Minister Qudsi published his unity plan, the influential editor of the Egyptian newspaper Akhbar al- Yawm, Mustafa Amin, ridiculed it as a “nice project, like the project of a unified world state, like the turning of deserts into gardens, and like the [Arab] Collective Defense Pact.” Amin did not completely write off the idea, but emphasized that only a “great man” like Ghandi would be able to turn it into a reality and establish the Great Arab State.18 Following the fall of the monarchy, the Egyptian identity remained dom­ inant during the first two years of the Free Officers (1952-53). The writings of most Egyptian intellectuals then still reflected the traditional “Egypt-first” (misr awalan) attitude.19 This was also reflected in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s first two 27

The Road to the Union chapters of his Philosophy o f the Revolution (falsafat al-thawra), written in the summer of 1953, which primarily discussed Egypt’s domestic malaise.20 In 1954, however, the Arab identity gained strength; with British evacuation in the offing, the emergence of ‘Abd al-Nasir as the sole leader, and the struggle against Iraq over regional defense, Egypt became more involved in Arab affairs. Thus, in the third chapter of his Philosophy, published in early 1954, ‘Abd alNasir already spoke of Egypt’s envisaged role in the Arab circle.21 Likewise, he told the Sunday Times that “only after the signing of the Suez Agreement our people began thinking in strategic terms; until then we had concentrated only on Egypt.”22 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s statements stressed the fact that Egypt’s interpretation of the meaning and function of pan-Arabism differed from that of Syria. Egyptian leaders and intellectuals regarded pan-Arabism primarily as a means to bolster Egypt’s position in the Arab world. Since they envisaged dominating that world through a system of alliances, they did not regard unification as either viable or desirable. Egypt’s efforts to secure hegemony in the Arab world centered on Syria, which was considered part of Egypt’s Lebensraum. This rationale was succinctly expressed by ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Azzam, the former Egyptian Secretary-General of the Arab League and a leading pan-Arab. In April 1953, he stated that “we cannot leave Syria to act as it wishes because our natural strategy dictates that Syria should be part of our Lebensraum {sahatina alhayawiyya)." Moreover, in terms of economic resources and markets, he thought Egypt “needed the Arab states more than they needed Egypt.”23 ‘Azzam’s views generally reflected the utilitarian attitude toward the Arab world of other known Egyptian pan-Arab thinkers, such as Muhammad ‘Ali ‘Alluba, Zaki Mubarak, and Ibrahim ‘Abd al-Qadir Mazini.24 In fact, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s and ‘Azzam’s statements expressed a familiar Egyptian notion of the Greater Syria area (Jbilad al-sha ’m) as a buffer zone and a first Une of defense within Egypt’s legitimate “living space.”23 This hegemonic perception reflected a deep sense of geographic insecurity, a result of consecutive invasions from Egypt’s northeastern border. Like his pre­ decessors (e.g., Muhammad ‘Ali), ‘Abd al-Nasir also felt a strong sense of Drang nach Osten, although he disguised it with his sophisticated theory of Egypt’s unique role in the Arab, African and Islamic worlds. “We cannot look stupidly at the map of the world,” he wrote in his Philosophy, “not realizing our place therein and the role determined to us by that place.”26 Mahmud Riad, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s close adviser and a major architect of the union, asserted that it was this sense of historical vulnerability that drove ‘Abd al-Nasir to adopt pan-Arabism.27 This instrumental perception meant that Arab unity was seen more as a remedy to Egypt’s security dilemma, which would be resolved by the attainment of Arab hegemony. This thinking, however, did not negate the 28

The Road to the Union Egyptian perception that Egypt was destined to play a leading Arab role as a result of its state capabilities. The new climate in Egyptian Arab thinking was discernible already in late 1954; Mustafa Amin, who three years earlier had ridiculed Qudsi’s unity plan, predicted that within ten years (1964) the notion of “the United Arab States” (al-Wilayat al-Muttahida al-'Arabiyya) would be realized.28 Perhaps the appearance of a possible “great man” - ‘Abd al-Nasir - was what changed Amin’s mind. In addition, the long and wide-range broadcasts of Voice of the Arabs (Sawt al- 'Arab) and Radio Cairo, turned Egypt into the “mouthpiece” of the Arab world. Moreover, the massive publication by the ministry of national guidance (irshad qawmi) of easy-to-read booklets on Arab, Middle Eastern and African issues broadened the horizons of the average Egyptian, exposing him to the immediate world beyond Egypt, which was primarily inhabited by Arabs.29 Politically, however, it was 1955 that marked a watershed in Egypt’s involvement in Arab affairs. Its struggle with Iraq over the Baghdad Pact, its participation in the Bandung Conference and the Czech Arms deal boasted ‘Abd al-Nasir’s prestige, turning him in Arab eyes into the recognized leader of the Arab world. Still, his perception of Arab unity was limited, aimed at the “unity of struggle” (wahdat al-kifah) - i.e., unifying the Arab armies against the common Israeli enemy and coordinating political activity against Western designs to create a Middle Eastern defense organization.30 In ideological terms, Egypt’s growing attachment to the Arab identity was reflected in its constitution, which was issued in January 1956. Echoing the Syrian constitution of 1950, Egypt declared that it was an Arab country and its people part of the Arab nation.31 Husri considered the declaration “a most glorious stage in the history of the development of Arab national thinking in Egypt.” The wording of the constitution was revolutionary, in his opinion, because Egypt, in contrast to Syria’s self-evident pan-Arabism, tended to “waver backward and foreword between Pharaonism, Egyptian particularist nationalism, Orientalism and Pan-Islamism.”32 Another pan-Arab thinker, Tzzat Darwaza, concluded that Egypt and Syria were now in a position to unite, thereby creating the basis for a comprehensive union.33 Both Husri and Darwaza believed that Egypt’s capabilities and its human resources compelled it to fill the role of the Arab “Prussia”; ‘Abd al-Nasir, according to this interpretation, was to become the “Bismark” of the Arab world. This perception dovetailed with the Arab world as “wandering aimlessly in search of a hero” in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s Philosophy?* Yet it should be empha­ sized that in spite of Egypt’s apparent contribution to the pan-Arab movement, certain Arab intellectuals were concerned of Egypt’s instrumental attitude, which did not necessarily stem from a deep and “scientific” conviction, but 29

The Road to the Union rather from possible advantages for the Egyptian State. They feared that such a hegemonic perception of pan-Arabism would bring Egypt to renew its efforts to establish an Arab empire rather than forming an egalitarian federal state.35 Their fears, as the UAR experience would clearly show, proved to be justified.

Egyptian-Syrian Relations: From Conflict to Cooperation Since the establishment of the Arab League in March 1945, relations between Egypt and Syria were characterized by cautious cooperation, which occasion­ ally deteriorated into open hostility. During the first half of the 1950s, Egypt adopted a “negative” policy toward the Arab world aimed primarily at pre­ empting a union among the Fertile Crescent states, particularly between Iraq and Syria. The Egyptian regime feared that the creation of a unified Arab state in this area would challenge Egypt’s perceived leading role in the Arab system. The Egyptian policy vis-à-vis Syria was supported by Saudi Arabia, which was apprehensive of the creation of a large Hashemite state that would threaten the integrity of the Saudi kingdom. By November 1954, Egyptian-Syrian relations reached low ebb. Egypt protested against the activities of the Muslim Brotherhood in Syria and against the Syrian press, which was condemning the Egyptian regime for its alleged repressive measures. This led the British ambassador in Damascus to conclude that “there is always here a certain latent distrust of Egypt and a suspicion that with her pretensions to the hegemony in the Arab League Egypt might embark on some course of action which would put Syria before an unwelcome fait accompli.”*6 A major change in Egyptian-Syrian relations occurred in 1955. In February, Turkey and Iraq concluded a military agreement, which became the kernel of a Western-aligned defense organization called the Baghdad Pact. It included Britain, Iran, and Pakistan, in addition to Turkey and Iraq. The Pact was originally designed to be a Western bastion in the Middle East against the Soviet Union, connecting between NATO in Europe and SEATO in Southeast Asia. Yet the Iraqi Hashemites considered the Pact primarily as a tool for furthering their own interests in the Arab world at the expense of Egypt, which controlled the Arab League. By drawing other Arab states into the organization, Iraq hoped to enhance its position in the Arab world and to diminish that of Egypt. As a result of its strategic centrality in the Middle East, Syria became the first battle­ ground in the struggle between Egypt and Iraq over the Baghdad Pact.37 On 6 March 1955, Egypt, Syria, and Saudi Arabia published a Tripartite Declaration that explicitly rejected the Turco-Iraqi agreement and called for 30

The Road to the Union the establishment of an Arab defense and economic pact. The Declaration paved the way for a vicious political struggle between Egypt and Iraq over Syria, which lasted until October 19SS. The Iraqis were hoping that members of the People’s Party from Aleppo, who had been known for their support of a Syrian-Iraqi association, would back Syria’s adherence to the Pact. Yet the political atmosphere in Syria militated against any move that would be construed in public as capitulation to the West. Thus, in October 1955, an Egyptian-Syrian military agreement was signed, which led to the establishment of a joint command headed by Egypt’s War Minister, ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir.3® The agreement constituted the first concrete step toward the union between the two states. The proposal that Syria unite with Egypt was first debated within the Ba’th Party in January 1956.39 But the party’s first official declaration was published only in April, when the Ba’th National Command issued a comprehensive state­ ment that called, inter alia, for the realization of Egyptian-Syrian unity (wahda) as a starting point (nawah) on the road to complete Arab unity.40The same argu­ ment was further elaborated by ‘Aflaq and Bitar in a series of articles which they published, in May-June 1956, in their organ al-Ba ‘th. It should be empha­ sized, however, that in Ba’th writings the term “union” (wahda) referred mainly to the necessity of sharing a common foreign policy, while neglecting all other aspects of union and ignoring the incompatibility of the Egyptian and Syrian political and economic systems.41 With the consolidation of the Ba’th Party in the Syrian political system, the question of Arab unity became prominent on the political agenda. In February 1956, President Quwwatli held discussions with representatives of leading political parties with the aim of drawing up a national charter that - so it was hoped - would provide a program for a new coalition replacing Sa’id alGhazzi’s cabinet. As a result of Ba’thi pressure, the national charter included a vague reference to the need to turn the existing Egyptian-Syrian agreement into “the nucleus of Arab unity.”42 But Ghazzi’s cabinet was replaced only four months later and meanwhile the idea evaporated. The Ba’th Party increased its influence in the cabinet of Sabri al-‘Asali, a leading member of the National Party, which came into office in June 1956. Bitar was appointed foreign minister and another prominent Ba’th member, Khalil Kallas, became minister of national economy. This development caused an immediate political crisis; the Ba’th ministers, backed by pro-Ba’th officers, insisted that the government’s policy statement should contain a pledge for the formation of a union with Egypt. The right-wing opposition in parliament led ‘Asali to adopt a more guarded declaration. It stated that “we intend to consol­ idate our relations by conversations which will take place very soon, and which we hope to see result in the unification of our destiny accepted by both parties, 31

The Road to the Union which all liberated Arab States will be invited to join.”43 The Ba‘th also sent a congratulatory note to ‘Abd al-Nasir upon his election as president, remarking that “the entire Arab nation was waiting for the attainment of a federation (ittihad) between Egypt and Syria: the nucleus of a comprehensive Arab union (wahda)."** Having gained a central position in ‘Asali’s cabinet, the Ba‘th ministers attempted to advance their ideas. In spite of the reservations of the People’s Party, which for economic reasons opted for a Syrian-Iraqi association, the Ba‘th, backed by senior army officers, succeeded in setting up a ministerial committee to negotiate the establishment of a federal union (ittihad) with Egypt. As a result, a delegation headed by ‘Asali and Bitar went to Cairo on 1-2 July 1956. Although ‘Abd al-Nasir reportedly welcomed the idea, he insisted that all Syrian parties should agree on the principle, form, and substance of the union before approaching Egypt. Meanwhile, he proposed the creation of joint committees to prepare studies on the union - a convenient way of skirting the issue without having to reject it.4S Following the visit, the cabinet took a unan­ imous decision empowering the committee to negotiate a “federal union” (iittihad) with Egypt “provided that this union shall be open to other liberated Arab states.” The Syrian ministers chosen to the committee were ‘Asali (repre­ senting the National Party), Bitar (Ba‘th), and Interior Minister Ahmad Qanbar (People’s Party). Upon approving the decision, parliament expressed hope that the committee “will very soon bring before us the result expected by the peoples of all Arab countries.”46 By mid-July 1956, it seemed that the idea of union was gaining momentum. The Syrian press published a draft, reportedly presented by President Quwwatli to the cabinet, for a federal union among the “independent Arab states,” to be known as the “United Arab States” (al-Duwal al- 'Arabiyya al-Muttahida).47 The fact that the plan appeared immediately following the Syrian cabinet’s decision to set up a ministerial committee suggested that the idea was being seriously discussed by the government. However, the Syrian ambassador in Cairo, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-‘Azm, claimed that the impulse for unity was a matter of internal politics with each party trying to outbid the others, while actu­ ally only the Ba‘th and President Quwwatli favored the union.48 Britain and the United States, for their part, did not take the Syrian initiative seriously. The British Prime Minister, Anthony Eden, thought that the union idea was “a move promoted by the left-wing in Syria which seems to be mainly of a propaganda content.”49 The discussions between Egypt and Syria were scheduled to resume on 24 July. The nationalization of the Suez Canal Company, however, changed the course of events. Addressing the Arab audience in his nationalization speech on 26 July, ‘Abd al-Nasir told the Syrians: 32

The Road to the Union Today I tell your brethren in Syria, in your name - we welcome you! As you said in your constitution, we are part of the Arab nation, and we said in our constitu­ tion, we are part of the Arab nation. We shall proceed together, brethren, united as one man with one heart in order to achieve the principles of true dignity and true grandeur, and in order to establish throughout the Arab homeland and the Arab nation a true political independence and a true economic independence.90

Although the speech was devoid of any concrete references to Arab unity, thousands of Syrians reportedly flooded the streets of Damascus and of other Syrian towns calling “one flag, one nation, one homeland.”31 Thus, in the long run the Suez crisis and the subsequent war against “imperialism” only served to strengthen Egypt’s commitment to pan-Arabism, at least in the public eyes. Thus, when the conference of the Arab Graduates Association was held in Alexandria in July 1956, the issue of establishing the “United Arab States” topped the agenda. The conference also issued a draft constitution that called for the formation of a federal Arab union.32 The international crisis that followed the nationalization gave ‘Abd al-Nasir a convenient pretext to suspend the Egyptian-Syrian negotiations.33 Moreover, in the enthusiasm that engulfed the Arab world, the Egyptian-controlled media called for patience and restraint, asserting that unity “must be achieved in stages without wishful thinking.”34 In terms of Arab unity, however, the Suez War had several implications: First, the war substantiated the Arab perception that Israel is an expansionist power intent on conquering Arab lands. Thus, a union between two Arab states (and more) would have the ability to thwart Israel’s alleged ambitions. Moreover, the war proved the Egyptian thesis that control­ ling the land of neighboring Arab states was crucial for Egypt’s defense.33 Second, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s political victory over “Western imperialism” bolstered his image in the Arab world and portrayed him as the only Arab leader capable of confronting external (that is, non-Arab) threats. When Syria would be exposed to an alleged Soviet-backed communist coup in the summer of 1957, Egypt would be seen as the only power capable of thwarting this threat. As soon as the Suez crisis subsided, the Ba‘th Party pressed to resume Syrian-Egyptian talks. A newly composed ministerial committee was sched­ uled to visit Cairo in mid-January 1957. The Syrian attempt to initiate a new round of talks was probably related to the promulgation of the Eisenhower Doctrine, which isolated Syria and Egypt in the Middle East.36 Once again, however, ‘Abd al-Nasir postponed the visit - leading the Egyptian counselor in Damascus to admit that the Egyptian president was probably “stalling on the union project.”37 Finally, in March 1957, a Syrian mission arrived to Cairo to discuss the federation project. No details of the talks are available, but ‘Abd alNasir made his position clear when he told the respected Indian journal Blitz 33

The Road to the Union that he was “not thinking in terms of any federation or confederation or such constitutional formula for the present.” When asked whether he envisaged a union for the Arabs similar to the US or the USSR, he replied that he had not thought in terms of federal or confederal arrangements, and that he preferred organizations such as the Arab League.38 During the same month, however, Egyptian, Syrian, and Jordanian education ministers signed an inter-cultural agreement that pledged to unify their educational policies, as well as their respective curricula.39 In contrast to most Arab rulers, the support of the masses for Arab unity increased following the Suez Affair.60 As a result, ‘Abd al-Nasir felt obliged to address the issue; in a speech to the inaugural meeting of the National Assembly, on the eve of Revolution Day (22 July 1957), he declared: We, in Egypt. . . can never forget how Syria. . . stood by us during the aggres­ sion against us [the Suez War]. This is not strange, because Syria has always been a source of radiation of Arab nationalism, and a springboard for the task of achieving Arab unity. Less than a year ago Syria announced. . . its desire to unite with Egypt, as a first step toward full Arab unity. Egypt, which has registered in its first Article of its Constitution that it is part of the Arab nation, cannot but respond to this move, and welcomes any attempt that brings nearer this desired national aim.61

‘Abd al-Nasir’s attitude toward the union was welcomed by many Syrians. Recalling the Egyptian-Syrian union in 1840 (presumably the Egyptian reign in Syria during the years 1831-40), Prime Minister ‘Asali asserted that the present union would be achieved in four stages starting with the political sphere, continuing in the military and economic spheres, and culminating in cultural unity.62 These public utterances seemed, at least from a Western perspective, * intended for propaganda purposes. According to a senior British official, “although there seems to be considerable emotional support for the idea in both Egypt and Syria, it is really only a propaganda theme and as unlikely to achieve practical application as many other Arab nationalist dreams.”63 Egyptian-Syrian relations strengthened during the Syrian crisis of summerautumn 1957. By mid-1957, the Western powers were under the impression - which in hindsight seems as grossly exaggerated - that Syria was gradually becoming a Soviet “satellite” in light of the warming of Soviet-Syrian relations and the widespread activity of the Syrian Communist Party under the charis­ matic leadership of Khalid al-Bakdash.64 Moreover, on 12 August, Syria expelled three American diplomats for allegedly plotting against the regime. Consequently, the US, in cooperation with Turkey and Iraq, undertook several clandestine activities aimed at preventing Syria from becoming a “victim of 34

The Road to the Union international Communism.” The ensuing crisis - indirectly fomented by the superpowers - almost led to an open clash between Turkey and Syria. By early October, however, the tension had eased as a result of mediation efforts by Saudi King Sa‘ud.65 Egypt sought various ways to gain a locus standi in the “Syrian affair.” ‘Abd al-Nasir attempted to convince the US that the communist menace in Syria was exaggerated, and that the US should avoid either deploying the Sixth Fleet, supplying arms to dissident Syrians, or encouraging Turkish threats. Such steps, he averred, would only “drive the Syrians into the arms of the Russains.”66Since his advice went unheeded, ‘Abd al-Nasir considered sending troops to Syria, in accordance with the Egyptian- Syrian military agreement of October 1955. On 11 September, the Syrian Chief-of-Staff, General ‘Afif al-Bizri, and the Head of the Military Intelligence, Colonel ‘Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, came to Cairo for discussions with War Minister ‘Amir, and Brigadier Hafiz Isma‘il, the Chiefof-Staff of the joint Egyptian-Syrian command. Following the consultations, Egyptian troops, estimated at about a battalion, landed in Latakiyya on 13 October. Since the Syrian crisis had largely dissipated by that time, the move should be seen merely as a political maneuver intended to establish ‘Abd al-Nasir as the sole Arab leader, and to ensure that Syria remained in Egypt’s sphere of influence. Foreign Minister Mahmud Fawzi told the Canadian representative at the UN that the Egyptian force was sent to demonstrate the effectiveness of the Egyptian-Syrian military alliance, to reassert Egyptian leadership in the Arab world and to encourage the Syrians to stand up to Communist pressure.67 The fact that the maneuver was not for military purposes was evident from the fact that the Egyptian troops, estimated at 1,200, did not function as a regular unit but were widely dispersed through the Syrian army.68 The Egyptian move undoubtedly strengthened the position of the Ba‘th Party and of pro-Egyptian officers in the Syrian army. Egyptian-Syrian relations improved also in the economic sphere. In the midst of the Syrian crisis, an economic agreement was signed that stipulated: (1) freedom of movement for persons and capital; (2) freedom of exchange of national and foreign products; (3) freedom to obtain employment and under­ take economic activity; and (4) freedom of use of means of transport, ports and airports.69 In addition, a trade and payment agreement was signed in midNovember that provided for a double annual level of trade (LE 6m instead of LE 3m).70Although the terms of the agreements seemed impressive, they were intended merely for propaganda purposes. The influential Lebanese Member of Parliament, Emile Bustani, reported that during his meeting with ‘Abd al-Nasir, the latter had scoffed at the idea that an Egyptian-Syrian union would ever become a reality, and described the economic union as a meaningless project.71 Another demonstrative step toward strengthening Egyptian-Syrian relations 35

The Road to the Union was taken by the two parliaments. An Egyptian delegation of forty members of parliament, headed by the Speaker Anwar al-Sadat, arrived for a visit on 18-22 November 1957. In a speech before a joint session of the Syrian parliament and the Egyptian delegation, the Speaker Hourani repeated the call for an EgyptianSyrian federation (ittihad) as the starting point for a “comprehensive Arab union” (wahda).72At the end of the session, the parliament passed a unanimous motion approving the steps toward a federal union already taken and calling for hastening of the process. During his visit, Sadat was reportedly taken to task for Egypt’s lack of enthusiasm about union and for its failure to implement the terms of the economic agreement.73 At the end of December, a Syrian parliamentary delegation, headed by Ihsan al-Jabiri and including all the political factions in parliament, paid a counter­ visit to Egypt. Although the delegation asked ‘Abd al-Nasir to accelerate the pace of integration, the latter was still hesitant.74 In two important speeches made at the time, he completely ignored the idea of a union.73 As much as ‘Abd al-Nasir was concerned about Syria’s domestic unrest, which might reverberate across the Arab world, he still saw a union as a liability rather than an asset.76 Yet, the Egyptian gestures toward Syria created a momentum of its own which ‘Abd al-Nasir himself could not ignore or reverse.

Syrian Unrest Intensifies In late 1957, the political situation in Syria further deteriorated. A main reason was the growing influence of the Communist Party, and the resultant fears in Arab and Western circles that a Soviet-inspired takeover was in the offing. It seems, however, that the US - whether deliberately or not - greatly exagger­ ated the communist threat in Syria. Quwwatli, Hourani and other Syrian politicians, as well as some Western officials in Damascus, asserted that the socalled “communist menace” was overstated.77 Even after the formation of the UAR, Quwwatli told the American ambassador that Syria had friendly relations with the Soviet Union but that “the Communists had never acquired [a] dom­ inant position in Syria.”78 In contrast, the intense meddling of the US, Turkey and Iraq in Syrian internal affairs during 1956-57 strengthened the contention that the threat of Western involvement was acute. Overall, the intense meddling of the superpowers in Syria’s internal affairs aggravated its political instability. The perception prevailing in the West that Syria’s future was unclear undoubtedly affected the Syrians themselves. Thus, already at the end of 1956, the Canadian ambassador to Lebanon (who was also responsible for Syria) concluded that the latter “seems to be living through a serious moral crisis, searching for an appropriate expression of its own 36

The Road to the Union personality.”79 Three months later, he remarked that “where Syria will be in a few weeks or months none can tell, but it is certain that the country has not settled, even in its own mind, where it is going.”80 The perception that Syria might become a communist state was not, however, without basis. It emanated from two sources, the first being the increasing role of the Eastern bloc in Syrian affairs. On 24 July 1957, a Syrian delegation, headed by Khalid al-‘Azm, Acting Defense Minister and a known sympathizer of the Soviet Union (called sometimes the “red millionaire”), signed an impressive economic agreement with the Soviet Union. It contained a pledge to fund the construction of several important projects, including the Euphrates Dam (equivalent to the Aswan Dam in Egypt).81 Second, under the leadership of Khalid al-Bakdash, the Syrian Communist Party gained strength. Although he was the party’s only representative in parliament, it was believed that the party enjoyed wide popular support, especially among the educated class. These developments served to magnify ‘Azm’s position in the cabinet and to solidify his alliance with Bakdash. This clearly antagonized the Ba‘th and the right-wing parties, which were now willing to cooperate in trying to break the ‘Azm-communist coalition. Ba‘th rivalry with other leftist forces was manifested in the contest between Hourani and ‘Azm over the position of speaker of parliament. According to the Syrian constitution, the speaker assumes the president’s role in his absence. Since Quwwatli was over seventy and often ill, the position became highly significant. Having secured the support of the National and People’s parties, Hourani was able to win the election on 14 October.82 However, the two most crucial contests were yet to come: the municipal elections in November 1957, and the parliamentary elections in September 1958. The People’s Party was the first to boycott the municipal elections, followed by the Ba‘th, both fearing a devastating defeat for the ‘Azm-communist alliance. Eventually Prime Minister ‘Asali, bowing to pressures from various parties, decided to postpone the municipal elections.83 The second contest never took place because in February 1958 Syria became part of the UAR. The withdrawal from the municipal elections clearly indicated the weakness of the right wing and the Ba‘th party. A further sign of weakness was the demand by ‘Azm and Chief-of-Staff Bizri that Bakdash be given a seat in the cabinet. Although ‘Asali and Hourani forcefully objected, they did agree to give ‘Azm greater responsibility as deputy Prime Minister, thus increasing the strength of the leftist forces in government.84 In addition, a Syrian delegation headed by ‘Azm left on 9 December for Moscow to discuss the economic agreement signed in July 1957.85 These developments strengthened the per­ ception among local and foreign observers that Syria was on the verge of becoming a communist state dominated by the Soviet Union. 37

The Road to the Union Not surprisingly, the political instability fostered an atmosphere of economic uncertainty, which resulted in certain restrictions on import and a limitation of credit. In addition, there was a lack of foreign exchange on the market since the Syrian affluent élite preferred to place its money in Lebanese banks, which were operating under the newly introduced system of bank secrecy on the Swiss model. The business community largely attributed Syria’s economic predicament to the left-wing complexion of the government.86 Largely associated with the right-wing parties, this business community grad­ ually became convinced that Egypt offered the best hope for avoiding a communist or Ba‘th takeover, which would probably entail socialist measures against private enterprise. Moreover, the business bourgeoisie hoped to prosper within the larger Egyptian market. However, in the absence of Egyptian involvement, the only forces that could stymie such a development were the Syrian army and the US.

The Syrian Army and Union Army officers had played an important role in Syrian politics since Husni alZa‘im’s coup in 1949 - the first of a series of military takeovers leading to direct or indirect military control. Although the last military regime of Colonel Adib Shishakli had been overthrown in February 1954, and a civilian government reinstated, the military’s influence on the political system remained decisive. The most powerful figure was ‘Adnan al-Malki, a pro-Ba‘th officer who served as Deputy Chief-of-Staff. In April 1955, Malki was assassinated by a member of the Parti Populaire Syrien (PPS), a radical right-wing movement. Since then no single officer had been able to become the dominant figure in the army, it was split into several partisan factions, reflecting the conflicting trends in the political system.87 The most powerful faction in the army was that of the pro-Ba‘th officers, headed by ‘Abd al-Ghani Qannut and Mustafa Hamdun, a relative of Hourani from Hama. This group was also associated with ‘Abd al-Hamid Sarraj, head of the military intelligence since March 1955. Both Hamdun and Sarraj would later play an important role in the UAR. The second group, headed by Amin alNafuri, included Jado ‘Izz al-Din, Ahmad ‘Abd al-Karim, Tu‘mah ‘Awdatallah, and Ahmad al-Hunaydi. It was a “neutralist” group with no certain party affil­ iation shifting its loyalty according to circumstances. All these officers would hold high positions in the UAR as well. The third group, comprised of rightwing officers from Damascus, was headed by ‘Umar Qabbani and Hisham al-‘Azm.88 Finally, ‘Afif al-Bizri, Chief-of-Staff from August 1957, was considered to be a communist sympathizer though not a party-member.89 38

The Road to the Union On 16March 1957, then-Chief-of-Staff, Tawfiq Nizam al-Din, supported by Nafuri and other right-wing officers, attempted to transfer over one hundred leftist officers holding key positions, including Sarraj. The Ba‘th officers, however, simply refused to budge, and even made a show of force by organ­ izing an uprising at the Qatana garrison. Meanwhile, Acting Defense Minister Khalid al-‘Azm, supported by Hourani and Bakdash, refused to sign the transfer order. In the ensuing crisis, Egypt mediated between the factions to prevent an open clash. Eventually the transfers were canceled, a development that enabled the left-wing officers to entrench their positions in the army.90 Another result was the replacement of Chief-of-staff Nizam al-Din with ‘Arif al-Bizri. The latter set up a twenty-four member Military Council (al-majlis al- ‘askari) that represented all factions within the army (including most of the officers mentioned above). The Council found it difficult to supervise the cabinet since the former, much like the latter, was divided along political lines.91 The “independent” officers in the Council (like Nafuri and ‘Abd al-Karim) favored of a complete union (wahda) with Egypt, whereas the pro-Ba‘th officers (Hamdun and Qannut) followed the party line of supporting a feder­ ation (ittihad). Bizri’s position was unknown though it was assumed that as a communist sypathizer he opposed any of these schemes. As for the undecided officers, the instability of the political system, exacerbated by factionalism among the top brass, compelled them to support some sort of association with Egypt. In conclusion then, most of the officers on the Syrian Military Council favored some link with Egypt as a remedy to the country’s political predicament.

The US Position toward the Union The decisive US involvement in the Suez affair and in the Syrian crisis of summer-autumn 1957 convinced ‘Abd al-Nasir that any drastic Egyptian move in Syria would have to be coordinated with the US. Relations between the two states, however, sharply deteriorated after the announcement of the Eisenhower Doctrine in January 1957, triggering a vicious propaganda battle. Nevertheless, the Syrian crisis fostered congenial atmosphere for improving Egypt-US relations: both had an interest in bringing stability to Syria, each for its own reasons. Following the landing of Egyptian troops in Latakiyya in October 1957, ‘Abd al-Nasir established himself as the Arab arbiter of Syrian affairs. This stemmed from his desire to bolster his position in the Arab world. Yet, he realized that this role could be jeopardized by the ongoing domestic instability in Syria. Since the US was in a position to stymie his maneuvers in Syria, he 39

The Road to the Union needed American backing. He therefore made use of the communist “threat” whether or not he sincerely believed in it - as a device to reach prior under­ standing with the US about Syria. He sensed that only by dangling the “red menace” would he be in a position to receive US blessing.92 The initiative for a rapprochement came from the Egyptian side. Ahmad Hussein, the Ambassador in Washington, and Mahmud Fawzi, the Foreign Minister, had attempted to reach a “truce” in Egypt-US relations since October 1957.93 Egypt’s overtures led US Secretary of State Dulles to conjecture that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s motive in improving Egypt-US relations was “to establish his leadership in the Arab world,” and that because he had “become too deeply involved with the USSR” he desired “true neutrality.” Although Dulles appreciated the opportunity to distance Egypt from the Soviet orbit, he tended to accept his deputy’s advice that the US “should proceed most cautiously.”94 ‘Abd al-Nasir, for his part, in early December 1957, signaled his sincerity by ordering his media to moderate their anti-American message.93 In mid-December, several US-Egypt contacts indicated that ‘Abd al-Nasir was testing the American attitude toward the possibility of Egyptian action in Syria. On 9 December 1957, Fawzi hinted to Dulles that “in the coming months we might hear of reassuring developments in Syria.”96 Two days later, Muhammad Hasanin Heikal, the editor of al-Ahram, was commissioned by ‘Abd al-Nasir to deliver a “very urgent and serious message” to US Ambassador, Raymond Hare. The gist of the note was that Syrian Chief-ofStaff Bizri was a communist and “something must be done about it.” ‘Abd al-Nasir believed that this was Egypt’s responsibility, which it was willing to assume “with courage and vigor.” In his opinion, any American or Turkish operation in Syria would cost dearly, and the only country that could success­ fully intervene in Syria with minimal repercussions was Egypt. His special request was that the US “keep [its] hands-off Syria for a maximum period of three months,” avoiding any action that “could have the unintentional effect of making heroes out of Bizri, Bakdash and ‘Azm.” Heikal was asked to use the information discreetly, with no one privy to it but the president, ‘Amir and himself. Even the two persons associated with US-Egypt rapprochement, Ambassador Hussein and Fawzi, were unaware of this approach.97 Dulles’ response was prompt: the following day, Ambassador Hare was authorized to inform Heikal that the US “would welcome action designed [to] impede Communist penetration [into] Syria, which we have for some time believed possess grave threat [to] the security of Syria and [the] entire Middle East.” This statement was qualified by the assertion that the US would not bind itself from taking any action necessary to protect US interests in Syria. Dulles concluded the message with the assurance that the US “wish avoid impeding any Egyptian efforts to bring about change and in particular appreciate con40

The Road to the Union sidérations regarding Bizri, Bakdash and ‘Azm.” Hare was told confidentially that the US had acceded to seek agreement with Egypt about appointing a new ambassador to Syria, who would be “in a better position to exert influence there.”98 As requested, the US kept this information in tightest secrecy; the British were told of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s distrust of Bizri, but no indication was given that the Egyptian president had approached the US.99 The US also took two further steps: the media were instructed to refrain from personal attacks on all leaders of the present Syrian regime; and the Egyptian government was informed that the US intended to appoint a new ambassador in Damascus.100 US positive response was delivered to Heikal on 14 December.101 Only a week later, when ‘Abd al-Nasir finally realized that his initiative had met with American approval, was he willing to discuss it openly with Hare. In addition to the points raised by Heikal on 11 December, ‘Abd al-Nasir told Hare that he believed there was no immediate communist danger to the Syrian regime, but that could change within six months. He added that although the Ba‘th was a strong force in Syrian politics, it was trapped because “to extricate itself from [the] communist relationship could be played up as collaboration with foreign elements.” He repeated that for purposes of succeeding in Syria, all parties concerned should “see [the] wisdom of laying off Syria for a time.” Finally, he pleaded that no publicity be given to Egyptian efforts, especially in the American press.102 Neither ‘Abd al-Nasir nor Heikal gave the US any indication of possible courses of Egyptian action in Syria. Yet it is clear that ‘Abd al-Nasir was given a secret American green light to operate in Syria during the next three months so long as this did not harm American interests. The archival material does not clearly indicate whether Egypt-US coordination received the blessing of Saudi Arabia as well.103 ‘Abd al-Nasir sought US approval because he realized that in light of the Middle East’s strategic and economic importance to Western powers, no drastic Egyptian move in Syria was likely to succeed on its own. Having no diplomatic relations with either Britain or France since the Suez fiasco, the Egyptian démarche to the US was both timely and logical.104 There are no indications that a similar Egyptian approach was made to the Soviet Union, although this question remains unanswered. It is unclear what type of action ‘Abd al-Nasir primarily envisaged with respect to Syria. It is possible that when he received the US green light in midDecember 1957, he did not as yet have a concrete plan for “salvaging” Syria. In general, it seems that he intended to obtain the help of the Ba‘th Party and its army sympathizers in order to remove Bizri and reduce the power of ‘Azm and Bakdash. A union with Syria was not considered a viable option, at least not for the immediate future.105 The US-Egypt rapprochement coincided with a Ba‘thi desire to improve 41

The Road to the Union relations with the US. Meeting with American officials, both Ba‘th leaders, Bitar and Hourani, made no secret of their desire to enhance Syria’s (and the Ba'th’s in particular) relations with America.106 The party’s branch in Aleppo went even further, establishing direct contact with the American consulate. On 10 January 1958, Alfred Atherton, the US consul in Aleppo, met with three proBa‘th officers who were sent by their superiors in Damascus. The officers claimed that communism was “their enemy number one and [they] were working to curb Communist influence.” They asked for US moral support, and also requested that the US use its influence over Israel and Turkey to prevent any turmoil on the Syrian borders. The officers further claimed that Ba‘th officers controlled most key positions in the army and were determined to inter­ vene if necessary to ensure the outcome of the next parliamentary elections in September 1958. The officers urged the US to work with Bitar along these lines whereas contacts with Hourani should be kept to a minimum so as to prevent the communists from claiming that he was under US influence. Interestingly enough, one of the junior officers at the meeting was Mustafa Tallas, a member of a well-known family long associated with the National Bloc. In 1970 he became Syria’s defense minister under Asad’s regime.107

Countdown to Union By late 1957, the idea of setting up a union (wahda) or a federation (ittihad) between Egypt and Syria became so popular that even the Communist Party, which had previously supported a “loose federation,” now demanded a full merger. Counting on ‘Abd al-Nasir’s expected refusal to discuss it, the Communists hoped to outbid the other parties, especially the Ba‘th. The latter, however, was not quick to jump on the bandwagon. In mid-January 1958, ‘Aflaq was still voicing the traditional Ba‘thi position, which called for the establishment of a federation.108 The apparent eagerness of the Syrian parties to unite with Egypt did not please ‘Abd al-Nasir. Yet having obtained a green light from the US to make some intervention in Syria, he probably felt a certain sense of obligation to act there. However, he had no clear notion of what type of action was needed to “rescue” Syria. His intelligence experts, Sha‘arawi Guma‘a and Amin Huwaydi, who returned from a month-long visit to Syria in early 1958, advised him that a union with Syria entailed grave risks and recommended postponing the venture.109 Yet on the eve of New Year, the first issue of a new Lebanese newspaper published an exclusive interview with ‘Abd al-Nasir in which he expressed his hope that the union would be realized “before the end of 1958.”110 This statement revealed that some change had occurred in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s 42

The Road to the Union thinking and that psychologically he was already prepared for some sort of asso­ ciation with Syria. Shortly earlier, in late December 1957, ‘Abd al-Nasir sent General Hafiz Isma(il, Head of ‘Amir’s office, to present the Syrian Military Council with the Egyptian position. Isma‘il noted the political and economic differences between the two countries while emphasizing that any union would probably be resisted by the superpowers. He added that such a union must conform to the structure of the Egyptian regime, and that five years would be needed before the union (wahda) could become a reality.111 In spite of his unenthusiastic posi­ tion, the Council drafted a resolution calling for an immediate union with Egypt."2 Still, ‘Abd al-Nasir suspected that some officers opposed the union and would therefore attempt a military coup. He even feared the eruption of a civil war."3Once Bitar and Hourani realized that these fears were genuine, they acted - with the full support of the Egyptian Ambassador - to acquire a docu­ ment signed by all Council members expressing unequivocal army support for the union. Such a document, they thought, would convince ‘Abd al-Nasir that Syria was ripe for union.114 This development led Bizri to call for an urgent meeting of the Council on the night of 11 January 1958. Following a stormy session, it decided that a fourteen-member delegation would fly to Cairo to discuss the terms of a full union (wahda) rather than a federation (ittihad). Headed by Bizri, the delega­ tion included all key officers except Nafuri and Sarraj, who stayed behind to “tend to the home front” and to notify the president and the cabinet of the army ’s decision. A memorandum signed by all Council members specifying the nature of the union was to be submitted to the Egyptian president.113 Only Hourani, Bitar and the Egyptian ambassador had prior knowledge of the memorandum; President Quwwatli, Prime Minister ‘Asali, and Acting Defense Minister ‘Azm were officially notified on the next day. Upon hearing the news, they considered the events as tantamount to a “military coup.”" 6 Only on 15 January 1958, three days after their arrival, did the officers meet ‘Abd al-Nasir. It is possible that the latter, preoccupied with Indonesian President Sukarno, thought that a delay would somewhat cool the officers’ enthusiasm. His attitude was reflected by the Egyptian media, which attached no significance to his meeting with Bizri and the Syrian military delegation.117 During the meeting, the officers expressed their desire to unite with Egypt because of internal cleavages, communist activity, foreign and Arab meddling, and the threat of the Baghdad Pact. ‘Abd al-Nasir claimed that all these consti­ tuted “negative” reasons, and that political, economic and institutional differences may seriously hinder a true union. By the end of the meeting ‘Abd al-Nasir was still not convinced that a full union was desirable; he did not reject it but preferred to proceed gradually. He was particularly disturbed that the 43

The Road to the Union army delegation was not officially representing the Syrian legitimate govern­ ment."® A photograph of ‘Abd al-Nasir, accompanied by the Syrian officers, taken after the meeting, showed a strained and worried leader, who just emerged from a troubled discussion."9 To demonstrate the seriousness of the Syrian position. Foreign Minister Bitar arrived on the next day as an official representative of the Syrian govern­ ment. Although cabinet and party authorized Bitar to discuss the possibility of a federation (ittihad), the talks - perhaps under the influence of Syrian officers in Cairo - evolved around the question of full union (wahda).'10 Following intensive discussions ‘Abd al-Nasir became convinced that the Syrians were sincere in their desire to unite. Consequently, he expressed his willingness to accept the “principle” should Syria accept his conditions: that all parties, including the Ba‘th, be dissolved; that the army cease involvement in politics; and that a referendum be held to approve the project. A joint protocol was drafted, which envisaged the establishment of a binding, yet vague, association - termed the “United Arab State” (al-Dawla al- ‘Arabiyya al-Mutahhida) - and offered a blueprint for a gradual process of unification.121 At the same time, Heikal felt confident enough to inform an American embassy official on 21 January that a basic decision to establish a union had been reached. The association, he said, would take the limited form of a feder­ ation (ittihad): both countries would have separate budgets and parliaments, with some sort of joint elective body. He further disclosed that ‘Abd al-Nasir decided that ‘Azm would be removed and Bizri transferred to a minor non­ political post.122Undoubtedly, Heikal was sent by ‘Abd al-Nasir to reassure the US that the projected federation was a step taken within the framework of the green light given to ‘Abd al-Nasir for operating in Syria (see above). On 22 January, Bitar and the officers returned to Damascus for consulta­ tions. In the ensuing cabinet discussions - Heikal described it as “sword fencing” - the main opposition to the Cairo document came from ‘Azm, who maintained that a loose confederation was preferable since the two political systems were incompatible. He also objected to a referendum since the next parliamentary elections could, in his opinion, serve as an indication of popular preferences.123 Eventually, the cabinet, the Ba‘th Party and the army accepted ‘Abd al-Nasir’s conditions. While it is unclear from Syrian sources what type of association was preferred, Egyptian sources stressed that the Syrian decision was to fully unite with Egypt.124 On 25 January, Bitar returned to Cairo with an amended document; the next day, al-Ahram lead headline stated: “ The Union (wahda) To Be Officially Proclaimed To-morrow.” It was reported that the new entity would be called “the United Arab State” (al-Dawla al- ‘Arabiyya al-Muwahhada), consisting of one president, one parliament, and one army.125 The union, however, was not 44

The Road to the Union proclaimed on the following day; consultations on its form and substance continued between ‘Abd al-Nasir and Bitar, the latter in frequent touch with Damascus. On 28 January, without giving any details, ‘Abd al-Nasir told American journalists that Egypt and Syria decided to unite.126In contrast to the centralized nature of the union described two days before, Al-Ahram disclosed now that the new entity would have one president, a central and two regional parliaments, as well as a central and two regional cabinets.127 Three days later, on 1 February 1958, ‘Abd al-Nasir and Quwwatli declared the formation of a union called the United Arab Republic (al-Jumhuriyya al- ‘Arabiyya alMuttahida).m The contradictory details appearing in al-Ahram, which was the mouthpiece of the regime, as well as the prolongation of the talks, attested that Egypt and Syria differed on the exact nature of the future association. The union declara­ tion was, therefore, a product of haggling on both sides; it seems that had the Syrians desired full union, the declaration would have been signed on 26 January, according to the details appearing in al-Ahram. The fact that the negotiations lingered for five more days may indicate that the Syrians attempted to extract a kind of union that would enable them to administer their own domestic affairs. Eventually, it was agreed that the new state would have a democratic presidential regime, with one flag, one parliament, one army, and one people (sha'b). The union was to be open to any Arab state desirous of joining either in a union (wahda) or federation (ittihad). The declaration stated that the president would be responsible for nominating the ministers, but it did not specify what kind of cabinet would be composed; thus, the possibility that a regional cabinet would administer Syrian affairs was left open. The declara­ tion was signed by 23 leading Egyptian and Syrian officials, including the reluctant ‘Azm and Chief of Staff Bizri.'29 Egyptian historiography has presented the union as a Syrian project, which had been thrust upon Egypt. This line of thinking is supported by Ahmad Hussein, Egypt’s Ambassador to the US, who claimed that ‘Abd al-Nasir originally opposed the union, but that he “has been backed into a comer from which there is no escape,” and hence the idea had to be pursued “willy-nilly.”130 Later, US Ambassador Hare recalled that ‘Abd al-Nasir told him that the union was premature but confessed: “I guess we’ll have to do it now, but I can tell you one thing: it’s going to be a big headache because we are not set for it.”131 Yet, this one-sided version should, in my mind, be challenged. It is hardly conceivable that the Syrians, as much as they were committed to pan-Arabism, would have agreed to relegate their state to the status of a province by initiating a complete merger with Egypt. It is more reasonable to assume that external and internal factors drove Syria to seek a union with Egypt, but a union that would allow them a measure of autonomy in Syrian affairs. As 45

The Road to the Union for ‘Abd al-Nasir, during the last phase of the Cairo negotiations he realized that he could not reject the Syrian offer since it would tarnish his image as the champion of pan-Arabism. Such assessment confirms Dann’s assertion that ‘Abd al-Nasir was “reluctant to embark on risky departures, but he was apt to be persuaded, to join, or to follow up when he came to believe that in a given situation he had to act according to his image.” 132 At the same time, however, he probably reasoned that only a full merger - not mere federation - would enable him a firm control of the unpredictable Syrian political system.133 Moreover, by merging with Syria he would turn Egypt into the Arab “Prussia,” a step that would facilitate the attainment of Arab hegemony. At that point, the Syrians were faced with an unforeseen dilemma: withdrawing from their initia­ tive would expose them as manipulative adventurers; acceding to ‘Abd al-Nasir’s demands would lead to their loss of power. The only way out of this dilemma was by accepting the union but negotiating its terms. It is equally possible that each party had a different interpretation of the term “union.”134 During the talks on the projected union, Syrian ministers received the impression that the political system of the new state would resemble the American one, with the president given wide responsibilities in the foreign and defense domains, while each region would enjoy wide autonomy in local affairs.133 On 31 January, only a day before the official proclamation of the UAR, Bitar told the American ambassador that it would be organized along federal lines, similar to the West German model.136While it is possible that Bitar was attempting to assuage American fears concerning the nature of the new entity, it is also possible that his conception of the new entity differed from ‘Abd al-Nasir’s. But in this moment of enthusiasm, perhaps the “semantic” differ­ ences between “union” and “federation” were hastily papered over. The existing evidence clearly shows that the decision to unite - one of the serious decisions made by Arab rulers in the modem era - was taken under the pressure of circumstances. Though the union may justifiably seen as a consummation of a logical historical process, still this specific type of union was a marriage of convenience formed without proper preparations. During the negotiations and after the UAR collapse, ‘Abd al-Nasir emphasized that only within a gradual process of five years a true union would emerge; against his better judgment, however, he was cajoled to form a union within two weeks (!) The haste in which the union was formed undoubtedly contributed to the diffi­ culties that confronted the UAR, eventually bringing about its fall.137 The establishment of the union had immediate dividends for ‘Abd al-Nasir. It served him well in his struggle against Iraq and the Baghdad Pact, allowing him to acquire a foothold in the Fertile Crescent, which was considered part of Iraq’s sphere of influence. Moreover, by controlling Syria, ‘Abd al-Nasir would gain control over the Iraqi and Saudi oil pipelines running through Syria to the 46

The Road to the Union Mediterranean. The formation of the union coincided with the annual meeting of Baghdad Pact Council, held at Ankara; ‘Abd al-Nasir, however, refused to proclaim the union on the same day since he was unwilling to provoke the Western powers.138Still, the Egyptian media played up the theme, averring that the union in fact constituted a direct response to the “imperialist-Zionist” schemes of the Baghdad Pact.139 Its members, and Iraq in particular, were greatly disappointed by the tepid US reaction to the projected union, which they regarded as a dire threat to their interests.140 An attempt by the Iraqi Crown Prince, ‘Abd al-Ulah, to enlist US support for an Iraqi operation in Syria was politely rejected.141 Iraq and other members were clearly unaware that the formation of the UAR dovetailed with American interests - a small price paid for the quashing of the communist “menace” in Syria.142 The establishment of the union also served ‘Abd al-Nasir well in his struggle against Israel. In contrast to Israeli and Arab allegations, the Israeli threat had played a negligible role in the process that led to the formation of the union.143 In fact, Egyptian-Syrian preparatory negotiations, as we have seen, had hardly concentrated on the Israeli factor. Yet it is clear that the realization that the UAR could have a deterrent effect on Israel helped ‘Abd al-Nasir in overcoming his prior hesitation about the union. Only two years after the Suez War, in which Israel demonstrated its military might, ‘Abd al-Nasir saw the union also as a shield against possible Israeli attempts to acquire “the Holy land from the Nile to the Euphrates.”144 With the establishment of the UAR, he thought, Israel would be caught between the hammer (Egypt in the south) and the anvil (Syria in the north), facing the threat of “encirclement” by a unified UAR army which in theory could simultaneously fight on two fronts.143 With the establishment of the UAR, both Syria and Egypt - separately it should be emphasized - acted to ensure US blessing. Unaware of the secret Egyptian-US contacts that preceded the union, ‘Asali and Bitar expressed the hope to the American Ambassador Charles Yost that the US would not oppose the union as it had opposed the Egyptian-Syrian-Saudi agreement of 1955.146 The State Department’s response - that the “US would support unity or any form thereof which results from freely expressed wishes of Arab peoples concerned” - could not but please the Syrians.147 ‘Abd al-Nasir, for his part, sent Mustafa Amin, the editor of the influential newspaper al-Akhbar, to meet with Ambassador Hare, who reassured him that the establishment of the UAR would not bring a change in US policy.148Undoubtedly, the US position ensured the safe inauguration of the UAR. Were the Egyptian-US contacts before the union tantamount to a “col­ lusion”?149 ‘Abd al-Nasir did not think so. Meeting Ambassador Hare on 17 February, he stated that when he had sent Heikal to meet with Hare for the first time in December 1957, he had “no thought of Egyptian-Syrian union except 47

The Road to the Union as something which might be worked out in five years or so.” He claimed that he had made the move because “there was no alternative,” even though he had expected both Soviet and American opposition.130 With the proclamation of the UAR in Cairo, ‘Abd al-Nasir formed a union with a state he had never visited before and with people he hardly knew. Cheering crowds flooded the streets in Damascus and Cairo; the Arab media described the union as a first step on the road to the establishment of the great Arab fatherland. ‘Abd al-Nasir was portrayed as no less than a modem version of the great Arab warriors, Salah al-Din and Khalid bin Walid, and his picture was widely circulated.131 The union was seen as a justified Arab triumph over Western imperialism, which had dominated the Arab world for many years, and a first step toward the containment, if not elimination, of Israel. In the words of a leading Syrian officer, “the union was the first major victory of the Arab nation in many centuries.” 132 But victory, if indeed it was, was not to last for long; ‘Abd al-Nasir soon found out that taking Syria was easier than ruling it.

3 Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere (March 1958-February 1959)

The Institutional Framework On 1 February 1958, a huge headline in the influential Egyptian newspaper alAhram declared: “Today Is the Greatest of All Days!”1 It was the day Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir and Shukry al-Quwwatli announced the establishment of the UAR, following a historic session of joint Egyptian-Syrian delegations held at the Kubbah Palace in Cairo. An official statement clarified that a presidential democratic system of government would be established, that the executive authority would be vested in the head of the state assisted by ministers appointed by him and responsible to him, and that the legislative authority would be vested in one parliament. It was determined that a general plebiscite on the principles of the union and the choice of the head of the state would be held within thirty days. The announcement concluded with declaration that “the door is open for participation to any Arab state desirous of joining in a union iwahda) or federation (ittihad).”2 It was signed by all Syrian representative factions, including the reluctant ‘Azm but excepting the communist Bakdash. Two staunch supporters of the union, Hourani and Sarraj, remained in Damascus.3The following day, al-Ahram joyfully declared: “A Great State was Established in the East.”4 On 5 February, both ‘Abd al-Nasir and Quwwatli addressed their respective parliaments, announcing the historic decision reached in Cairo and explaining the principles of the union. The Egyptian president presented a seventeen-point program that was to serve as a basis for the UAR provisional constitution, and declared that a plebiscite would take place on 21 February.3 While celebrating the event, ‘Abd al-Nasir added a word of caution, remarking that ”our journey is not for pleasure or relaxation but is full of hardships, difficulties, struggle and 49

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere fight.”6 The following day, a headline in al-Ahram announced: “A Dream Comes True” (al-hulmyatahaqqaq).7 Undoubtedly, the newspaper’s headlines genuinely reflected the public enthusiasm over the union and not only the regime’s policy. Meanwhile, on 13 February, Syrian authorities announced the arrest of “dozens” as a result of the uncovering of a conspiracy masterminded by “im­ perialism, Zionism and the Baghdad Pact.” The alleged plot was reportedly organized and financed by the US, with the help of Turkey and Israel, and aimed at sabotaging the establishment of the UAR. The plot was reportedly planned for 21 February, the day the plebiscite was scheduled to take place, and would involve incitement of armed insurgence in southern and northern Syria, leading to foreign military intervention.8 Available information indicates that the “conspiracy” was a sheer fabrication. Yet the wide publicity given to it in the Arab press suggests that its invention was a deliberate move intended to strengthen Egyptian-Syrian ties against the “common enemy.” On 22 February, the results of the plebiscite unanimously (99.99 per cent in Egypt, 99.98 per cent in Syria!) approved the establishment of the UAR with 4Abd al-Nasir as its president. As a token of gratitude for his service to the Arab cause, the retired Syrian President Quwwatli received the honorary title of “First Arab Citizen.” Before cheering crowds at the presidency, ‘Abd al-Nasir declared that with the creation of the UAR: Each one of us feels in his heart that his will has triumphed; that his faith and aspirations have been victorious; and that Arab nationalism, which was merely a dream to all of us . . . and which had been mentioned in poems for many long years . . . has now been realized.9

On another occasion, he admitted that he “never imagined or contemplated that this result [the UAR] would be achieved so quickly.”10 The results of the plebiscite gave rise to formal celebrations in both regions. The Cairo and Damascus streets took on a festive air, with flags and other decorations. Lavish arches were built along all the main thoroughfares, and all governmental build­ ings were bedecked with long strings of lights.11On 24 February, ‘Abd al-Nasir began his first visit to the Syrian region. He spent the next three weeks touring the country, delivering inflammatory speeches before cheering crowds and getting acquainted with the problems of his new “northern province.”12During his stay, ‘Abd al-Nasir issued two important decrees: the UAR provisional constitution and the composition of its cabinet. On 5 March, the provisional constitution was promulgated. It was, in fact, an abridged form of the Egyptian constitution of January 1956.13The first article stated that the UAR is “a democratic, independent, sovereign republic, and its 50

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere people are part of the Arab nation.” The article in the 1956 Egyptian constitu­ tion declaring that Islam was the state’s religion and Arabic its formal language was deleted, probably in order to placate Christian Arab sensitivities. The UAR constitution stated that the executive power was vested in the president, and that he was in charge of appointing and dismissing ministers. Two executive councils (majlis tanfizi) were to be established by the president in both the Egyptian and Syrian regions (iqlim) in order “to study and discuss matters pertaining to the execution of the general policy in the region.” The legislative power was vested in a National Assembly (NA) which was to “exercise control over the acts of the Executive.” Its number was to be determined by the presi­ dent, but at least half of its members “must be members of the [previous] Syrian Chamber of Deputies and the National Assembly of Egypt.” However, while the NA was not in session, the president “may issue any legislation or decisions originally lying within the competence of the Assembly.” In any case, the presi­ dent had the right to dissolve the NA. In contrast to the Egyptian constitution, the president was allowed to declare a state of emergency without the approval of the NA. The most striking feature of the provisional constitution was the wide powers given to the president. For the Syrians the change was significant since they were accustomed to parliamentary political system and coalition govern­ ments. The phrasing of the constitution disappointed the Ba‘th Party, which hoped to introduce more references to social reforms, at least along the lines of the 1950 Syrian constitution.14 However, all later attempts to draw up a permanent constitution failed. On 6 March, ‘Abd al-Nasir declared the nomination of four vice-presidents and the setting up of a thirty-four-minister government. Two Syrians,’Asali and Hourani, and two Egyptians, ‘Amir and Baghdadi, became vice-presidents. Only ‘Amir served as a minister (of war) in addition to his vice-presidency. Each was assigned special duties: Baghdadi was in charge of economic affairs, production, and planning; Hourani of services; ‘Asali of coordinating affairs between the two regions; and ‘Amir of the armed forces.15The new government was composed of a central (or federal) cabinet and two regional cabinets. The central was composed of eight ministers (war, foreign affairs, national guid­ ance, education, industry, Awqaf, presidential affairs and an undefined minister of state). Of the eight, seven were Egyptians and only one was Syrian (Bitar). Each regional cabinet was composed of eleven ministers (health, justice, public works, municipal and village affairs, finance and commerce, agriculture, treasury, communications, planning, social affairs, supply). Whereas all Egyptian ministers preserved their seats in the new cabinet, the Syrian cabinet was largely reshuffled. Only Khalil Kallas (Ba‘th) and Fakhir al-Kayyali (National Party) served in the former cabinet as well. The rest of the ministers consisted of four senior army officers (‘Abd al-Hamid al-Sarraj, Amin 51

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere al-Nafuri, Ahmad ‘Abd al-Karim, and Mustafa Hamdun), four technocrats (Nur al-Din Kahalah, Ahmad al-Haj Yunis, Hasan Jabbara, and Dr Shawqat alQanawati), and a leftist member of the People’s Party (Dr ‘Abd al-Wahhab Hawmad).16 The composition of the central cabinet assured that Egypt would dominate not only federal issues (i.e., military and foreign affairs) but also regional (such as economy and education). Whereas the make-up of the Egyptian cabinet guaranteed continuity and stability, the composition of the new Syrian cabinet indicated that ‘Abd al-Nasir was determined to detach the army and the parties - thought to be the two prime causes of Syrian instability - from the political system. Based on the Egyptian model, key Syrian officers playing crucial roles in the establishment of the UAR became civilian ministers. In addition, the Syrian Revolutionary Military Council ceased to function; ‘Amir officially dissolved it and its members were given honorary medals for their service.17 Moreover, former politicians affiliated with the old party system were excluded from the regional cabinet. Even the Ba‘th Party, which expected to be rewarded for its role in the formation of the UAR, was disappointed as both Hourani and Bitar received only ambiguously defined roles in the federal institutions.18 However, the Ba‘th position in the regional cabinet was stronger. To ensure the exclusion of parties from politics, a presidential decree dissolving all political parties was issued on 12 March.19 On the same day, another decree defined the exact powers of the UAR president. The latter now assumed all the powers heretofore allocated to the Egyptian and the Syrian pres­ idents, as well as to the Syrian cabinet. In the absence of a parliament, the president was entitled to issue decrees pertaining to legislation.20 On 1 April, a further decree established Egyptian and Syrian Executive Councils (EC), composed of vice-presidents and regional ministers. Its task, according to the provisional constitution, was “to study and discuss matters pertaining to the execution of the general policy in the region.” The decree also set up in each region four ministerial committees (executive, legislative, economic, and public services), headed by members of the same EC.21 ‘Abd al-Latif Baghdadi was nominated to head the Egyptian EC, and Hourani became the head of the Syrian EC.22 Lastly, on 17 April, ‘Abd al-Nasir nominated Mahmud Riad, former ambassador to Syria and a major architect of the UAR, as his special adviser on Syrian affairs residing in Damascus.23 Thus, by mid-April 1958, the creation of the institutional framework was complete, assuring Egypt a dom­ inant position in the UAR. Even before the announcement of the presidential decree, most of the Syrian parties had dissolved themselves and their assets were transferred to the National Union. On 21 February, the People’s Party, headed by Rushdi alKikhya, announced its dissolution. This was soon followed by a similar 52

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere declaration by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Kayyali, leader of the National Party.24 On 24 February, the Ba‘th Party followed suit. A meeting of the Syrian Regional Command headed by ‘Aflaq decided to dissolve only the Syrian branch of that party. Later, the party was criticized for adopting such a “historic” decision without consulting the highest Ba‘th authority, the National Command, and without holding any serious discussion on the formation of the UAR.23 In contrast to the decision of the party leadership, however, many Ba‘th members refused to dissolve their cells and remained organized, especially at the periphery.26 The last official declaration of dissolution came from Hani alSiba'i, leader of the Socialist Bloc Party. Only the Communist Party refused to dissolve itself and went underground. Its leader, Khalid Bakdash, left for Moscow, launching from there a propaganda campaign against the “dictatorial” nature of the UAR.27 Having played a significant role in the formation of the UAR, the Ba‘th leadership hoped to fill key roles in the central cabinet. According to Sami alJundi, a prominent Ba‘th member, the party wanted to “solely control the Syrian region [qutr\."2%Although ‘Abd al-Nasir probably did not make any promises to the Ba‘th, “the leaders may have drawn a totally unwarranted conclusion that they were to have a favored place in the new system.”29Disappointed from their relatively minor roles in the union, ‘Aflaq and Bitar asked ‘Abd al-Nasir to unofficially set up a “secret political committee,” consisting of six persons: ‘Amir, Baghdadi and Zakaria Muhi al-Din, representing the Egyptian region; Hourani, Bitar and ‘Aflaq, representing the Syrian region. Unwilling to per­ petuate partisan affiliations, ‘Abd al-Nasir at once rejected the idea.30 In reality, however, ‘Abd al-Nasir displayed a more tolerant attitude toward the Ba‘th. Its organ, al-Ra ’i al- ‘Amm, continued publication, and some of the party’s political activities were allowed to continue behind the façade of sports and social clubs.31 Furthermore, a decree issued on 8 April 1958 invested Hourani, UAR Vice-President and Chairman of the Syrian EC, with additional responsibilities in the spheres of finance, administration, and Arab refugees, making him the most powerful person in the Syrian region.32 Disappointed by its limited role in federal matters, the Ba‘th took advantage of Cairo’s relatively loose control to consolidate its position in the Syrian region. Thus, many administrative officials of the ancien regime, mostly landowners associated with the People’s and National parties, were dismissed and replaced by Ba‘th members or sympathizers. This development, as well as the enactment of the Agrarian Reform Law in September 1958, naturally irri­ tated the traditional élites of Damascus and Aleppo. Consequently, several members of the old élite submitted in September 1958 a memorandum to the president, complaining of Ba‘th favoritism in official appointments.33 Moreover, its strong influence in the army allowed it to initiate transfers of 53

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere officers known to be unsympathetic to its ideas.34 The dismissal of Bizri (see below) was probably instigated by the Ba‘th as well. Since the army had been a main cause of instability in Syria, ‘Abd al-Nasir took measures to weaken its political power-base. First, the two armies - the Syrian being called the First Army and the Egyptian the Second Army - were amalgamated, and the new joint headquarters, under ‘Amir’s command, were placed in Cairo. Second, ‘Afif al-Bizri, Commander of the First Army, who was suspected of communist inclinations, was dismissed on 23 March, eleven days after his nomination. ‘Abd al-Nasir later recalled that Hourani and Bitar insisted on Bizri’s immediate resignation, but that he (‘Abd al-Nasir) thought such a step would be “a stab in the back” since Bizri played an important role in the formation of the UAR.3S Eventually, when Bizri ordered the transfer of officers for allegedly political reasons, he was dismissed and appointed to a civilian position on the UAR Higher Planning Council - a post intended to ensure his isolation from his Syrian contacts.36 Bizri was replaced by Jamal Faysal, the former Syrian attaché in Cairo, who was to become no more than a figurehead. Third, all key Syrian officers who showed loyalty during the EgyptianSyrian negotiations period were rewarded and nominated to civilian positions in the Syrian EC. With this move, ‘Abd al-Nasir attempted to disengage the officers from the army. Fourth, the Syrian army underwent a “purification”: Bizri was not the only Syrian officer to be dismissed for his leftist political views; other officers were either forced to retire or simply dismissed. Fifth, ‘Abd al-Nasir initiated a policy of transferring senior, and subsequently junior, Egyptian officers to the Syrian region and vice versa. Sixth, on 13 March, the Gendarmerie, Desert Patrol, Department of General Security (all under army command) and the police were combined into one unit called Police and Security, under the jurisdiction of Sarraj, the Syrian Minister of Interior. To sweeten the pill, the titles of army ranks were made uniform in accordance with the Syrian system. All these acts succeeded in neutralizing the Syrian army, but they alienated many officers who complained of being discriminated against by their Egyptian counterparts.37 By mid-June, the reliable Lebanese newspaper al-Hayat claimed that the number of Egyptian soldiers in Syria was around 16,000-20,000, and that the Syrian army had been reduced to 55,000.38 The Syrian media, being relatively free compared to the state-controlled Egyptian media, constituted another potential source of threat for ‘Abd alNasir. To gain control of the Syrian media, an Egyptian, Fathi Radwan, was nominated Central Minister for National Guidance. Thus, the Syrian Propaganda and Information Department, previously under the control of a Syrian minister of state, was transferred to Radwan’s authority. In addition, Egyptian and Syrian broadcast stations were amalgamated and a UAR broad­ 54

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere casting station was established. Moreover, the number of Syrian newspapers was sharply reduced. In April 1958, the government announced it would compensate each publisher who had decided to close down his newspaper and would find work for his employees or pension them off. Eight of the nineteen daily newspapers published in Damascus were closed. Four of the eight decided to amalgamate, producing one newspaper called al-Wahda (the Union). Other partisan newspapers such as al-Ra’i al-'Amm (Ba‘th), al-Nur (Communists) and al-Manar (Muslim Brotherhood) decided to continue publication, risking the loss of their compensation rights. All three, however, were closed down by the government in October 1958.39 Fearing competition from the Egyptian press, available in Damascus since 1 May, several other Syrian newspapers decided to close down as well. The UAR was now in control of the Syrian media. ‘Abd al-Nasir invested also efforts to take control of the Syrian education. Despite the great differences between the Egyptian and Syrian educational systems, the nomination of an Egyptian education minister, Kamal al-Din Husayn, on a federal level, showed the significance the president attached to this field. It should be recalled that Egypt, Syria, and Jordan signed a cultural agreement in March 1957 stipulating the unification of their curricula. The agreement, which until then remained on paper, was ratified on 26 March 1958.40 In addition, a United Teachers Council was set up, headed by Husayn.41 Moreover, thousands of Egyptian teachers were sent to elementary and secondary schools in Syria, and Syrian students enrolled in Egyptian uni­ versities.42 This was part of a general Egyptian policy to send teachers to Arab countries and receive as many Arab students as possible. Although this policy initially emanated from lack of professional teachers in Arab countries, Egypt used these teachers as another channel of disseminating Nasirite ideology and supervising young Syrian students, who were considered a potential source of domestic instability.43 The establishment of a federal Ministry for Religious Affairs {Awqaf) was another move by ‘Abd al-Nasir to contain possible threats from Islamic elements. He was particularly apprehensive of the Muslim Brotherhood, which had attempted to assassinate him in Alexandria in October 1954. The task of the Egyptian central minister, Shaykh Ahmad Hasan al-Baquri, was to closely supervise the activities of the Syrian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood, as well as to ensure that financial donations would be allocated to “appropriate” Islamic foundations. To avoid any misunderstandings, a presidential decree specified that the ministry “shall consist of all departments and institutions which belonged to the Ministry of Awqaf of the Egyptian region and to the DirectorateGeneral of Awqaf of the Syrian region.44 The first phase in the building of the UAR institutional framework was 55

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere completed with the enactment of a Nationality Law on 25 June 1958. The first version of the law, published in early April, established that Egyptians and Syrians would become “Arab nationals.’’43 The revised law stipulated that an Arab was a person fulfilling one of the following conditions: held Egyptian or Syrian nationality on 22 February 1958; had an Arab father; was bom in Arab territory to an Arab mother; or was bom in Arab territory but his parents were not known.46 In an attempt to build a shared heritage of the new state, certain steps were taken to create shared symbols and eliminate separate (especially Syrian) symbols. Thus, on 7 April 1958, a new flag was announced for the UAR, consisting of the three traditional colors (black, white, and red) of the pan-Arab movement, with two five-pointed green stars representing the former states of Egypt and Syria.47 In addition, the date of the plebiscite approving the UAR (22 February) became a national holiday. In contrast, Syria’s Independence Day celebrating French evacuation (17 April 1946) was removed from the list of national holidays.48 A new national anthem was introduced in May 1960 (for a more comprehensive analysis of this point, see chapter 6).49 The institutional changes immediately raised several problems. First, the demarcation line between responsibilities of the “regional” vs. the “central” ministers was obscure, causing confusion and resentment among the ministers.30 Second, the composition of the Syrian EC caused frictions between the old traditional élite, mainly represented by ‘Asali, and the modem élite, mainly represented by Hourani and Bitar. ‘Asali and Hourani vied for the control of the Syrian region, yet the latter had the advantage of being supported by the officers who had become civilian ministers (such as his relative Hamdun, Nafuri, and ‘Abd al-Karim).31 Third, the appointment of Mahmud Riad as the president’s special adviser for Syrian affairs reminded the Syrians of French advisers and sparked great resentment. Syrians referred to Riad as the Egyptian “High Commissioner,” and his wife as “the First Lady.” In institutional terms, the Syrians particularly resented Riad’s insistence that all decisions of the Syrian EC be channeled to the president through him.32 Finally, the Syrians objected to the extensive Egyptian involvement in the Syrian army, complaining in particular about the patronizing attitude of ‘Abd al-Muhsim Abu al-Nur, the former Egyptian attaché in Syria, who became deputy commander of the UAR army. Regarding himself as ‘Abd al-Nasir’s represen­ tative in the Syrian army, Abu al-Nur, according to a senior Syrian officer, incited the officers with the aim of dividing their ranks.33 By the summer of 1958, ‘Abd al-Nasir was in complete control of both regions of the UAR: the Syrian army had been detached from civilian authority, parties were dissolved, old right-wing and pro-communist politicians were removed from power, and the Ba‘th was considerably tamed. Although, as 56

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere noted, certain signs of discontent were already visible,54 the UAR president seemed at the zenith of his popularity. However, two external affairs - Yemen’s adherence to the UAR, but especially the Iraqi military coup of July 1958 signaled the first cracks in the union.

The Arab World: Yemen, Lebanon, and Iraq The Arab world received the union with mixed feelings. On the one hand, Arab leaders and élites were apprehensive lest the wave of Arab unity would unseat them. On the other hand, the enthusiasm of the Arab masses forced them to pay at least lip service to the cause of Arab unity. Yet in spite of declarations in support, no Arab State (except Yemen, see below) joined the UAR. On the contrary, Iraq and Jordan, tacitly backed by conservatives regimes in Saudi Arabia and North Africa, formed a rival association, called the “Arab Federation” (al-Ittihadal-'Arabi), on 14 February 1958.55 Of all Arab leaders to express desire to join the UAR, Hajj Amin al-Husayni, Head of the Palestinian Arab Higher Committee, was the first. On 20 February 1958, he reportedly sent ‘Abd al-Nasir a letter, asking for recognition of Palestine - the southern territory of the Greater Syria - as part of the UAR. Although Husayni’s move was couched in pan-Arab terms, it should be primarily seen as an attempt to regain his legitimacy as leader and spokesman of the Palestinian cause, which had been greatly eroded since the 1948 disaster (nakba). In addition, he hoped that by integrating Palestine within the UAR territory, he would secure an Egyptian commitment to liberate Palestine. Realizing the implications, ‘Abd al-Nasir politely evaded the request.56 Among the Arab states only Yemen expressed desire to join the UAR. Egyptian-Yemeni relations had been strengthened following the signing of the military pact between Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen on 21 April 1956. The pact opened the way for Egyptian military involvement in Yemeni affairs and for the introduction of Soviet weapons to the new, developing army. The driving force behind Yemen’s openness was Crown Prince Badr; his initiatives, however, were often impeded by the ruler, Imam Ahmad Yahya, who was known for his eccentricity and aversion to innovations.57 Following the procla­ mation of the UAR, the Imam expressed his desire to join it. ‘Abd al-Nasir hoped that Yemen would accede on 22 February 1958, the day the plebiscite took place, but the suspicious Imam was willing to accept only a very loose form of association. Eventually, on 8 March, the convention of the United Arab States (Al-Duwwal al- ‘Arabiyya al-Muttahidd) (UAS) was signed.58 Yemen’s desire to join the UAR, albeit in a loose way, posed a serious dilemma for ‘Abd al-Nasir. Although its adherence would keep the momentum 57

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere of Arab unity alive, it was clear that so far as Egypt was concerned, Yemen was joining for the wrong reasons, using Egypt as a lever against Saudi influence in the Arabian Peninsula and against British influence in Aden. In addition, as a detached, ultra-conservative state that was socially and economically back­ ward, Yemen stood in sharp contrast to revolutionary Egypt and some elements in Syria (such as the Ba‘th and the army) that favored unity, socialism, and modernization. Still, Egypt could not refuse the Yemeni request since to do so would hinder the cause of Arab unity. Moreover, Egypt had an interest in expanding its influence over the Arabian Peninsula vis-à-vis the British and the Saudis. Egypt’s desire to destabilize the Saudi regime was strong, particularly since the uncovering of King Sa’ud’s attempt to assassinate ‘Abd al-Nasir in early March 1958.S9 Ultimately, the UAS never became a reality and its insti­ tutions (such as the Supreme Council) remained dormant. Later, Arab writers acknowledged that accepting Yemen’s adherence to the UAR was ‘Abd alNasir’s first mistake.60 Lebanon constituted another dilemma for the UAR, mainly for the Syrians who never officially recognized Lebanon’s independence, regarding it part of Greater Syria. Moreover, since Syrian-Lebanese economic and cultural relations were extensive due to geographic proximity and ethnic-religious affinity, it was clear that the Syrian merger with Egypt would reverberate in Lebanon, especially among the Sunni-Muslim community. Indeed, with the establishment of the UAR, delegations led by ‘Abdallah al-Yafi and Rashid Karami, two former Sunni prime ministers, came to Damascus to congratulate Quwwatli. The latter invited Lebanon to join the UAR, claiming that Beirut could be “the principal trade center for a population of about 28 million people,’’ as well as “their summer resort.”61 When ‘Abd al-Nasir came to his first visit in the Syrian region in February 1958, distinguished Sunni delegations came from Lebanon to pay their tribute. Moreover, 5,000 Lebanese led by Sunni members of parliament and Druze leader Kamal Junbalat were addressed by ‘Abd al-Nasir on 9 March. This enthusiasm for the union, however, was not shared by the majority of the Lebanese Christians; the Maronite community in particular genuinely feared that the UAR, in collaboration with Muslim elements in Lebanon, “were planning the annexation of the country.”62 President Camille Sham‘un and Foreign Minister Charles Malik, as well as other Maronite leaders, often emphasized Lebanon’s unswerving wish to remain independent. The formation of the UAR and the Sunni-Muslim favorable attitude toward it exacerbated an already tense situation in Lebanon, which resulted from the president’s attempts to introduce changes in the constitution that would allow him a second term. However, Sunni-Muslim, Druze, and Maronite leaders formed a United National Front in late 1957 with the aim of frustrating 58

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere Sham‘un’s desire. The Front’s declared support of the UAR in February-March 1958 was therefore a mixture of an opportunistic desire to use the UAR as an instrument in its struggle against Sham‘un coupled with a sincere belief that Lebanon’s Arab orientation should be strengthened. It is possible that some members of the Front entertained the notion of adhering to the UAR, but it is doubtful that this was the majority’s opinion. Meanwhile, however, a new government headed by the Sunni-Muslim Sami al-Sulh stressed Lebanon’s attachment to complete independence and called for the strengthening of the 1943 National Pact.63 The increasing tension in Lebanon was connected in no small measure to the UAR. According to Lebanese sources, the latter was involved in terrorist activ­ ities, in smuggling arms from the Syrian region, in fomenting demonstrations and other anti-regime operations, as well as in vituperative press and radio campaigns against Lebanon64 Although the UAR attempted to downplay the significance of its alleged involvement, there are indications from American, Israeli and Arab sources that such activity, mainly through the Syrian border, had become a common phenomenon.65 In this tense atmosphere no wonder that the murder of Nasib al-Matni, a Maronite publisher and editor of the daily alTelegraph, on 8 May, sparked an armed conflict that deteriorated to a civil war, which naturally aggravated UAR-Lebanese relations. On 21 May, Lebanon submitted a complaint to the Arab League against UAR alleged blatant inter­ ference in its internal affairs; a similar complaint was submitted to the UN six days later. The Lebanese crisis eventually subsided with the landing of American troops in Beirut on 15 July, following the military takeover in Iraq (see below), and the election of Fu’ad Shihab, Army Chief of Staff, as President on 31 July. Consequently, UAR-Lebanon relations considerably improved; this reconciliation was confirmed in a meeting between ‘Abd al-Nasir and Shihab on the UAR-Lebanese border in late March 1959. It is clear that the establishment of the UAR constituted an imminent threat to the integrity of Lebanon because of the widespread appeal of pan-Arabism and ‘Abd al-Nasir, compounded by the geographic proximity of Lebanon to Syria. It is less clear, however, what were UAR intentions toward Lebanon. The existing evidence suggests that ‘Abd al-Nasir was hardly enthusiastic about a union between the UAR and Lebanon, although it is probable that certain Syrian leaders cherished that hope. They reasoned that by uniting with Lebanon they would not only realize their age-old dream but would also counterbalance the dominant Egyptian role in the UAR. ‘Abd al-Nasir, for his part, repeated several times his respect for Lebanon’s independence; he called, however, for toppling the pro-West Sham‘un, who initially refused to recognize the UAR and attempted, with the support of the Hashemite regimes in Iraq and Jordan, to diminish ‘Abd al-Nasir’s stature in the Arab world. It seems, therefore, that he 59

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere aimed to replace Sham‘un with a more amenable president willing to acknowl­ edge his leadership in Arab affairs.66 In fact, Lebanon’s adherence entailed no advantages for the UAR; controlled by Maronites averse to Arab unity and plagued by internal cleavages, Lebanon would have been a liability rather than an asset for the UAR. Since Lebanon’s cautious position toward Arab unity was well known (its attitude toward the Arab League was a case in point) the fact that it remained outside the realm of the union did not necessarily harm the UAR or ‘Abd al-Nasir’s prestige. It was, however, to be a different story with Iraq. Egyptian-Iraqi relations seriously deteriorated since February 1955. The main dispute between the two countries had evolved around the Baghdad Pact and the question of regional security.67 Iraq’s striving to achieve a dominant position in the Arab world was successfully blocked by ‘Abd al-Nasir. With the formation of the UAR, the Hashemites in Iraq and Jordan felt threatened; in response, they attempted to undermine the UAR by establishing the “Arab Federation” as a counter union. Yet the popular wave that swept the Arab world, in addition to serious social and economic problems in Iraq, fostered a military coup, which opened a new chapter in Egyptian-Iraqi relations. On 14 July 1958, a group of military officers headed by ‘Abd al-Karim Qasim and ‘Abd al-Salam ‘Arif instigated a coup, which annihilated the royal Hashemites, abolished the monarchy, and established a republican regime. Qasim became president and ‘Arif his deputy. Foreign intelligence agencies and other observers tended to believe that ‘Abd al-Nasir and the UAR stood behind the coup.68 Although there is no evidence of direct Egyptian involvement,69 it is reasonable to assume that Cairo-led propaganda and Nasirist ideology created an atmosphere in the Arab world that facilitated the coup. Quite expectedly, Egypt’s media received the Iraqi coup cheerfully.70 Taking into account the “revolutionary” nature of the Iraqi regime and the composition of its leadership, both Western and Arab observers assumed that Iraq would soon be associated with, if not fully integrated into, the UAR. Statements by certain Iraqi leaders, and the proliferation of street portraits of ‘Abd al-Nasir calling for “immediate union” (wahda fawriyya), suggested that a union with the UAR was soon expected.71 Mustafa Amin, editor of the influential daily Akhbar al-Yawm, claimed that “if Iraq had held a free plebiscite . . . 99 per cent of the people would have voted in favor of full unity.”72 On the second day of the Iraqi coup, Fa’iq al-Samra’i, the Iraqi Ambassador to Lebanon, arrived in Damascus on behalf of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council. Meeting with senior Syrian officials, he asked for UAR military and political support for the new regime.73 At that time, ‘Abd al-Nasir was in Brioni, holding talks with Yugoslav leader Marshal Tito. In a brief state­ ment released shortly after the coup, the Egyptian president welcomed the new regime and instructed the First (Syrian) Army to extend to Iraq “every possible 60

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere assistance.”74 The developments that rapidly followed - the landing of US Marines in Lebanon and the sending of British paratroops to Jordan - led ‘Abd al-Nasir to react promptly. On 16 July, he condemned the US involvement in Lebanon and declared that any attack on Iraq would be considered an attack on the UAR, in accordance with the Arab Collective Security Pact.75 On 18 July, instead of returning to Cairo, he paid a short visit to the Soviet Union, aiming to find out the Soviet reaction to the latest events.76 This was followed by another unexpected trip to Damascus with the aim of observing the events in Iraq and their possible effects on the UAR at close hand. Upon his arrival in Damascus, ‘Abd al-Nasir met with four leading figures of the new Iraqi regime: Deputy Prime Minister ‘Arif, Foreign Minister ‘Abd al-Jabbar Jumard, Minister of National Guidance Saddiq Shanshal, and Finance Minister Muhammad Habib. These four, as well as ‘Abd al-Nasir and Quwwatli, delivered short speeches to an enthusiastic Syrian crowd from the balcony of the Damascus guest palace. Addressing the “free men” of Iraq, ‘Abd al-Nasir welcomed the overthrow of the “imperialist” monarchy, declaring that the Iraqis and the people of the UAR were “one people and one nation” who had commenced the “holy march” (al-zahf al-muqaddas) toward union.77 The crowd reacted with tremendous applause to ‘A rifs statement that “Iraq is a complementary part of greater Arab unity,” and that “Mesopotamia salutes the people of the UAR.” At the end of his speech, ‘Arif introduced the text of an Iraqi-UAR agreement, including the following general principles: 1 2 3 4 5

Confirmation of treaties binding the two states, especially the Arab League pact and the Collective Security Pact. Agreement to follow common policy in defense and foreign affairs. Agreement to cooperate in the international sphere to preserve rights of both states. Agreement to take positive and immediate steps to promote economic and cultural cooperation. Agreement to consult on matters of common interest.78

The most striking thing about the agreement was the absence of any refer­ ence to Arab unity, either on the ideological or the operational level.79 The Syrian ministers, for their part, were annoyed that ‘Abd al-Nasir did not bother to brief them on his meetings with Soviet and Iraqi officials.80 A few days later, an Iraqi delegation headed by Justice Minister Mustafa ‘Ali and Minister of Awqaf Jabir al-‘Umar arrived to celebrate Egypt’s Revolution Day. The dele­ gation was given the honor of opening the main rally at Cairo Jumhuriyya Square on 22 July 1958. Then, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s annual Revolution Day speech (this day was not removed from the list of UAR national holidays) was mostly 61

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere dedicated to the great “victory” of the Iraqi people on 14 July, while comparing between the Egyptian and Iraqi revolutions. He declared that “despite differ­ ences in timing and of place the battle [of the Arabs] was one,” and that finally “Damascus met Baghdad and Cairo.” It seems, however, that ‘Abd al-Nasir was utterly disingenuous when he told a cheering crowd that he was "prepared to sign any document written by the Iraqi delegation” that had visited Cairo on 19 July.81 ‘Aflaq, the Secretary-General of the Ba‘th Party, regarded Iraq’s adherence to the UAR as a natural step. On 24 July, he went to Baghdad as a selfappointed messenger for ten days of discussions about the possibility that Iraq would join the UAR. Still committed to the dream of a unified Arab world, ‘Aflaq also believed that Iraq’s adherence would strengthen his party’s posi­ tion, which had been weakened by ‘Abd al-Nasir’s political moves. On his return to Cairo, he tried unsuccessfully to persuade him to visit Baghdad and negotiate the terms of Iraq’s association with the UAR. Heikal later claimed that ‘Aflaq spread unauthorized assurances in Baghdad that only served to embarrass the UAR.82 An Iraqi-UAR association was also supported by many Syrians who hoped to see improvement in the political and economic relations, which had drasti­ cally deteriorated during recent years. Traditionally oriented toward the Iraqi market, the business and commercial communities in Aleppo (associated with the former People’s Party) were keen to rebuild relations with Iraq, especially given the growing disenchantment with the economic situation in the UAR (see chapter. 4).83 In addition, it was believed that Iraq’s association with the UAR would balance the growing tendency toward Egyptian domination of the union. All these issues arose during the visit of Amin al-Nafuri, UAR Minister of Communications, to Baghdad in mid-August 1958. The decision to send Nafuri was accepted by the Syrian EC and approved by Cairo. The Syrian position was that Iraq should unite with the UAR within the next six months and that care should be taken to avoid the sort of mistakes that were made during the forma­ tion of the UAR - i.e., endowing ‘Abd al-Nasir with full control of the Syrian region. During Nafuri’s visit, the Iraqis asked for certain military support and complained of the involvement in internal Iraqi affairs by the UAR military attaché (who was an Egyptian). They advised that a Syrian should be appointed as ambassador in Baghdad, whose task would be to encourage Iraq’s adherence to the UAR. Following his visit, Nafuri declared that joint committees would soon be formed to discuss the carrying out of several projects in the field of communication. Yet, he was unable to elicit Egyptian approval. Apparently, both ‘Amir and ‘Abd al-Nasir mistrusted him.84 ‘Amir decided to send another Syrian officer, Ahmad al-Hunaydi, who was then serving in Cairo and whom ‘Amir considered to be more trustworthy. 62

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere Before arriving in Baghdad, Hunaydi stopped in Damascus where he met his former colleagues - Nafuri, ‘Abd al-Karim, Bizri, and ‘Awdatallah - and discussed with them the Iraqi situation. They decided that Hunaydi should follow up Nafuri’s visit and suggest Iraq’s adherence to the UAR as an equal partner by the end of 1958. Such a move, they thought, “would strengthen Syria’s position and would help gain a balance between Egypt on the one hand and Iraq and Syria on the other.”83 A letter in this spirit was written by Bizri to be delivered to Qasim.86 Hunaydi’s visit, however, also failed to bring any concrete results. In spite of all these visits, the question of establishing a formal UAR-Iraqi link was never seriously contemplated. The Iraqi-UAR agreement mainly reflected ‘Abd al-Nasir’s reluctance to be drawn into yet another unionist project while still struggling with the UAR domestic problems.87 It seems that he was opposed to another union, at most willing to accept a sort of “functional unity” - that is, a common policy on defense, foreign, economic, and edu­ cational issues. Moreover, he believed that “the Iraqi people should grow conscious of their freedom after long oppression before they exercised that freedom to determine their destiny.”88 Convinced that the US and the Soviet Union would oppose another Arab merger, ‘Abd al-Nasir spread frequent assur­ ances that he had no intention of uniting with Iraq.89 Moreover, to counter allegations about an Iraqi-UAR association, ‘Abd al-Nasir told the US that following a meeting between Sarraj and Qasim, the latter refused to meet him.90 When Kamal al-Chadderchi, leader of the Iraqi Nationalist Democratic Party, visited Cairo in early November 1958 with the aim of encouraging a loose democratic federation between Egypt, Syria, and Iraq, ‘Abd al-Nasir remained reluctant. He asserted that a federal government would be unable to hold the three parts together and that it would take ten years before the Iraqi army reverted to a reliable instrument of the civil power. He concluded that he “did not want to take over Iraq or Jordan [and that] Syria had more than doubled his problems.”91 This account contrasts with Dann’s assertion that “in all probability during the first year after the revolution Abdel Nasser dearly desired Iraq’s accession [to the UAR].”92 Unlike his deputy ‘Arif and several other prominent politicians, Qasim was hardly enthusiastic about developing close relations with Egypt. He refused to surrender Iraq’s sovereignty, preferring loose cooperation to a formal link. Being an Iraqi patriot more than a pan-Arab nationalist, Qasim was unwilling to “play second fiddle to Nasser.”93 Qasim’s policy was supported by the Communist Party, which emerged as a formidable political force after the coup. Backed by the Soviet Union, the party feared that a union would force it to go underground as the Syrian Communist Party had had to in the UAR.94 Qasim’s position became official Iraqi policy; on 29 August, Foreign Minister Jumard 63

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere stated that “the idea of union with [the] UAR does not at present exist with us since we are satisfied with [the] solid ties already forged.”95 The split between ‘Arif and Qasim (August-November 1958), which led to the former arrest and eventual removal from politics, strengthened the course of Iraq’s independent Arab policy.96 Thus, the idea of an Iraqi-UAR union receded and, as we shall see, a vicious propaganda battle commenced between the two countries. The fact that Iraq ultimately did not join the UAR weakened ‘Abd al-Nasir’s prestige and his pan-Arab ideology. Taking into account the UAR domestic problems, the president’s reluctance to formally associate himself with Iraq was understandable. Yet Arab public opinion assumed that Iraq’s adherence to the UAR was only a matter of time. This was the result of UAR propaganda, which had preached that only an unrepresentative government backed by “imperial­ ism” kept Iraq from joining the union. The fact that “revolutionary” Iraq declined to join suggested that perhaps the dream of Arab unity was no more than a mirage, and that state interests and local nationalism (wataniyya) were not necessarily illegitimate causes in the Arab world.

First Political Changes By early October 1958, ‘Abd al-Nasir realized that “dreaming is not enough.”97 The government’s difficulties in the realm of decision making and imple­ mentation of policies were evident. In July 1958, Vice-President ‘Asali threatened to resign unless some of these shortcomings were immediately remedied.98 The Ba‘th demanded a greater share in the UAR government, presenting the president with a list of twenty names eligible for nomination.99 In addition, the power struggle between Hourani and Sarraj, each attempting to secure a leading position in running Syrian affairs threatened to completely paralyze the Syrian EC.100 All these brought ‘Abd al-Nasir to admit to the US Ambassador: “since the UAR [was] formed, I feel I have lost maneuverability.”101 To rectify the situation, ‘Abd al-Nasir announced on 7 October the re­ organization of the UAR government. It would now include no less than 50 ministers (instead of 34) - 21 in the Central Cabinet, 15 in the Egyptian Executive Council and 14 in the Syrian Executive Council. Eight Syrians were nominated to the Central Cabinet: Hourani, Vice-President and Justice; Hasan Jabbara, Finance; Fakhir al-Kayyali, Minister of State; Bitar, Culture and National Guidance; Nafiiri, Communications; Bashir al-‘Azma, Health; ‘Abd al-Karim, Municipal and Rural Affairs; and Farid Zeine al-Din, Deputy Foreign Minister. The Central Cabinet also included chairmen of both the Egyptian EC (Nur al-Din al-Tarraf) and the Syrian EC (Nur al-Din Kahalah).102 ‘Asali, the 64

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere Syrian Vice-President in the outgoing cabinet, was not included since he had resigned over revelations that he had colluded with Iraq in the attempted coup of 1954.103 The Syrian Executive Council was dominated by the Ba‘th as three ex-officers, sypathizers of the party, joined the SEC: ‘Abd al-Ghani Qannut, Tu'ama ‘Awdatallah (both members of the military delegation that visited Cairo in January 1958), and Riad al-Malki, brother of the late ‘Adnan al-Malki who was assassinated in April 1955. Except Kayyali, none of the Syrian minis­ ters represented the old landed oligarchy.104 The most striking aspect of the reorganization was the increased centraliza­ tion, which afforded ‘Abd al-Nasir greater control of Syrian affairs. The formation of the first government in March 1958 led to confusion because the responsibilities of central vs. regional ministers were ill-defined. Since regional cabinets enjoyed considerable leeway, Syrian ministers often took action without reference to Cairo and ignored instructions of central ministers. The composition of the previous government contradicted the concept of a comprehensive union as envisaged by ‘Abd al-Nasir. Regional ministers in the new government, therefore, were directed to execute policies decided by the Central Cabinet and approved by the president.103 The expansion of the government gave the Syrians greater representation at the national level and a hope for better handling of their regional affairs. Yet the real power was still concentrated in Egyptian hands. This was assured by appointing Egyptians to key posts in the Central Cabinet; by appointing an uncharismatic technocrat to head the SEC; by detaching influential Syrian figures (such as Hourani, Bitar, Nafuri, and ‘Abd al-Karim) from their constituencies in Syria and transferring them to Cairo; and by playing off the Syrian ministers against each other. These steps were mainly intended to weaken the Ba‘th’s hold in Syria, while strengthening the position of Sarraj, who was gradually becoming ‘Abd al-Nasir’s sole protégé.106Another measure of centralization was the placement of Egyptian and Syrian govemorates under the president’s direct supervision. All these administrative measures were denounced by Syrian opposition groups in Lebanon that described ‘Abd alNasir as “the new Pharoah.”107 Initially, both Egyptians and Syrians reacted with enthusiasm to the forma­ tion of the new government. Yet the creation of such complicated machinery brought unforeseen problems. First, the new Central Cabinet lacked an official venue, which turned the Syrian ministers into “political refugees” in Cairo.108 While the Heliopolis Hotel was prepared to host the central ministers, they meanwhile used the old parliament building. Second, it was not long before the central ministers - both Egyptians and Syrians - found that their work was confined to supervising “their” two regional ministers and serving as a channel for delivering reports to the president. Since the regional ministers carried out 65

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere daily activities, the central ministers were left largely unemployed. Sayyid Mari1, the Egyptian Central Minister for Agriculture, admitted in his memoirs that he would visit his office only “once or twice a week” because he had very little work on his desk.109 Similarly, Ahmad ‘Abd al-Karim, the Syrian Central Minister for Municipal and Rural Affairs, complained that the responsibilities of the Syrian central ministers were ill-defined and that their role resembled that of the “Abbasid Caliphs during the Mamluk and Turkish periods” (i.e., para­ digms of a puppet).110 The centralization of the government enabled the president to act more vigorously against the dissidents, chief of which were the communists. Refusing to dissolve itself, the Syrian Communist Party clandestinely continued its activity, while Bakdash traveled between Prague and Moscow. In October 1958, he reportedly returned to Damascus in order to coordinate communist activity in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq.111 On 14 December, he published a thirteen-point program, calling for the conversion of the UAR into a loose federation, democratization of the regime, and strengthening of the relations with Iraq and other fellow socialist countries.112 ‘Abd al-Nasir, for his part, feared that the growing influence of the Communist Party in Iraq would spill over into Syria. He could not overlook the possibility that growing unrest in Syria, as in Iraq, would crystallize around the communists. Moreover, he believed that leading Syrian communists, with the help of the Soviet Union, were conspiring to turn Syria into a communist state. He thought the purpose of Bakdash’s visit was to coordinate communist activity in Syria, Iraq and Jordan, with the aim of unifying those countries under Soviet influence.113 Although there is no evidence to support this conspiracy theory, the UAR presi­ dent behaved as if such plans existed. On 23 December 1958, in his annual Victory Day speech at Port Sa‘id (cele­ brating the British-French withdrawal following the Suez War), ‘Abd al-Nasir sharply attacked the communists, denouncing them as enemies of the union and calling for unity with “no party representation and no divisions.” In referring to the communist movement he widely used the term shu ‘ubiyya (“faction­ alism” or “anti-Arabism”), which carries a profoundly negative connotation in Arab history. This term, indeed, became a derogatory synonym for communists in the Arab world."4 In the last week of December, hundreds of Syrian com­ munists were arrested and the party’s official organ, al-Nur, was closed down. Many members reportedly defected to the Ba‘th Party. Bakdash was allowed to leave the country safely on 25 December."5 As a long-term measure, the UAR government became more involved in indoctrinating the public on the differences between communism and Arab nationalism. ‘Abd al-Nasir himself frequently denounced the communists with derogatory terms."6 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s attack was not only directed at the Syrian communists but 66

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere at the Iraqi communists as well. “If communists gain control in Iraq,” he told William Rountree, the American Assistant Secretary of State, on 14 December 1958, “they will then be able to move into Syria and Jordan and eventually into Egypt. The result would be that all we have built up would fall to Communists.” " 7 He profoundly believed in this “domino effect.” The US Ambassador in Cairo, Raymond Hare, was told that the attack against the Syrian communists “had really been directed at Iraq,” but to avoid the impression that he was interfering in Iraqi affairs he had attacked Syrian communists."8 Afraid of being embarrassed in the Arab world, ‘Abd al-Nasir asked the US to refrain from taking a public stance in support of the UAR crackdown on the communists."9 The UAR measures against the communists poisoned its relations with the Soviet Union. The events of December 1958 signaled, according to Heikal, the end of the UAR-Soviet “honeymoon.”120 These measures, however, convinced the State Department that ‘Abd al-Nasir was willing - and indeed able - to act ruthlessly against the communists. As a result, the US immediately responded to his request for wheat supply and expressed willingness to estab­ lish a secret channel for delivering classified information on the communist threat.121 When ‘Abd al-Nasir came to Damascus on 23 February 1959 for the first anniversary of the UAR, the Syrian region was undoubtedly under his full control. Yet, beneath the calm political atmosphere and the cheerful reception he received from the Syrian masses, seeds of resentment could be discerned. These were mainly manifest in the economic domain.

4 Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere (March 1958-February 1959)

Early Efforts at Economic Integration Economic interests played an important role in the establishment of the United Arab Republic. Prominent members of the Syrian economic élite - landowners, merchants, and many entrepreneurs - regarded the union not only as a shield against communism, but as an opportunity to expand their enterprises in Syria and Egypt as well. The large Egyptian market offered them prospects far beyond the possibilities of the Syrian-Lebanese markets.1 ‘Abd al-Nasir himself thought Syria could profit from Egypt’s industrial products, and the former could become the latter’s main wheat supplier.2 Initial statements of UAR economic ministers referred to the economic advantages of the union for both regions: a larger market, greater economic stability, and increased export. In addition, it was thought that an economic union would enhance the bargaining position of the UAR toward the world market.3 Various articles in the Arab press suggested that the union would enable Egypt to relieve its high population density by resettling Egyptian peasants in relatively uninhabited, arable lands in Syria.4 The significant differences between the Egyptian and Syrian economies, as explained in the Introduction, hindered economic integration. However, the Syrian business community, which primarily relied on the private sector, did not think in terms of integration but instead hoped to expand its role in the large new UAR market. Moreover, this sector expected that Syria’s economic boom, which had been maintained during the previous decade (1947-57), would continue because of the expansion of the local market. Yet the economic élite did not realize that by 1957 “the period in which growth could depend almost exclusively on private investment came to an end,” and that further growth 68

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere depended on massive public investment, particularly in irrigation schemes and transport facilities.3 The first six months of the union (February-July 1958) were mainly devoted to building the political and institutional infrastructure. The substantial economic differences between the two regions necessitated careful planning before serious measures could be taken to unify the two economies. Statements of UAR officials indicated that the economic integration, in contrast to the political sphere, would have to be implemented at a slower pace. However, a marked difference existed between the Egyptian attitude, which preferred to speed up the economic integration and the Syrian attitude, which preferred to delay this process as much as possible for fear of Egyptian domination.6 While the public eye was focused on the political system, joint study groups were reviewing various economic plans for the Syrian region, involving customs, industry, banking, and agriculture. Rumors about the forthcoming application to Syria of Egypt’s land reform (see below) led Syrian landowners to break up their estates by distributing them among their families.7 In April 1958, following unsatisfactory talks with the minister of agriculture on the pro­ posed land reform, a delegation from the Syrian Chamber of Agriculture went to Cairo to raise with Vice-President Baghdadi its objections to the suggested bill.8 Thus, the Syrian economic élite had begun to realize that the economic disadvantages of the union might outweigh the political advantages. The Syrian discontent grew as a result of two other unforeseen events: the Lebanese civil war and the heavy drought. Following the outbreak of hostili­ ties in Lebanon in May 1958, the Syrian-Lebanese border was closed until October, thus depriving Syria of fuels from the Lebanese refineries at Tripoli and Sidon. Compelled to import from Egypt and Romania, Syria increased the price of gas and kerosene by 25 per cent and the use of private cars without special permission was prohibited. A month later, the Syrian EC decided to sell gas for coupons only.9 Quite expectedly, Syrian-Lebanese trade declined substantially. Constituting Syria’s main Arab market, Lebanon received approximately LS 120 million worth of goods in 1956; in 1958, this amount was reduced by half.10 Another result of the civil war was that many Syrian employees in Lebanon either left or were expelled by the Lebanese government. Another serious blow to the Syrian economy was the winter drought, the heaviest since the end of World War II. At the end of the season, the barley crop dropped by 70 per cent and the wheat crop by 60 per cent in comparison to 1957 figures (see table 4.1). Not only were the grain crops barely sufficient to meet Syrian and Egyptian consumption, but the export of these crops - which consti­ tuted a major source of foreign income for Syria - had to be completely halted. In addition, the cotton crop was disappointing and the sales were sluggish because of the situation in the world market (see table 4.1).11 As expected, this 69

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere development caused a serious decline in Syrian foreign currency, compelling the Syrian EC, as we shall see, to take certain measures to arrest this trend. The drought compelled ‘Abd al-Nasir to turn to the US for assistance. Before the union he had expected that Syria’s grain export would be directed mainly to Egypt, thus reducing its dependency on the Soviet Union, which had been supplying wheat in exchange for Egyptian cotton. Moreover, his measures against the communists in December 1958 made Egypt more vulnerable to Soviet economic sanctions. Unable to rely on Syrian products,12 ‘Abd al-Nasir secretly sent Heikal to the US ambassador in early December, asking for wheat supply within the framework of Public Law 480 program, which would “reduce [the] dependence on Soviets.” Heikal added that an American approval could have a “real impact” on US-UAR relations, would have “popular appeal,” and would “dispel recollection [of] economic sanctions imposed by the US” in the

Table 4.1

Syria: production of main crops (production in thousands of tons)

Year/ Crop

1950-54 Average































Source: Warriner, Land Reform, p. 220; Keilany, “Land Reform,” p. 217; Statistical Yearbook, 1963 (New York: 1964), pp. 117,127; Economic Developments in the Middle East, 1961-1963 (New York: 1964).

Table 4.2

Major Syrian exports (in LS millions)

Product/ Meat year























































Source: La Syrie Economique, 1963 (Damascus: n.d.), p. 108.


Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Table 4.3

Syria’s trade patterns: imports (in LS millions)






West Germany


































Saudi Arabia





No data*

Sources: Middle Eastern Affairs, Voi. 10 (1959), Nos. 8-9, p. 302; Vol. 11 (1960), No. 8, p. 252; Vol. 12 (1961), No. 7, p. 219; Vol. 13 (1962), p. 202; The Middle East, 1963 (London: 1964), p. 377. * One of the sources mentioned above brings different figures: 44.7 (1960) and 46.9 (1961). ** One of the reports indicates a different figure: 1.5.

Table 4.4

Syria’s trade patterns: exports (in LS millions)








































Saudia Arabia





No data

Sources: Middle Eastern Affairs, Vol. 10 (1959), Nos. 8-9, p. 302; Vol. 11 (1960), No. 8, p. 252; Vol. 12 (1961), No. 7, p. 219; Vol. 13 (1962), p. 202; The Middle East, 1963 (London: 1964), p. 377. * The sources mentioned above suggest two other figures: 33.2 and 101.4. ** The sources mentioned above suggest another figure: 48.4


Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Table 4.5


Syria’s national income (in LS millions) National Income, 1956 Prices

Change from previous year (in percentages)



















Source: E. Kanowsky, The Economic Development of Syria (Tel Aviv: 1977), p. 3.

Table 4.6


Syria: indices of agricultural production

Index of Agricultural Index of Agricultural Production, 1956=100 Production per capita

Percentage of Agriculture in Net Domestic Product

























Source: Kanowsky, Economic Development of Syria, p. 27.

past. Quick to take advantage of the situation, the US authorized the sending of 300,000 tons of wheat and flour under favorable terms. Over the next six years, Egypt was to receive $500 million worth of wheat.13 Only four months after the establishment of the UAR, the Syrian EC already faced a serious economic crisis. However, its first reaction caused resentment and revealed structural problems in the administrative machinery. In early June 1958, Syrian customs authorities raised import tariffs by 15-35 per cent on a number of luxury and semi-luxury consumer goods. The Ba'th supported the step as an application of socialist principles. The new tariffs, of course, reduced the consumers’ standard of living. The decision stemmed from the realization 72

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Table 4.7

Syria: Balance of foreign trade (in millions of $) Trade Balance

Oil Transit Dues


































Source: Kanowsky, Economic Development of Syria, p. 55.

that foreign currency was rapidly declining as a result of several factors. First, the loss of oil revenues since the blowing up of 3 pumping stations in 1956 (by December 1958 Syria had received LS 25 million, compared to LS 90 million in 1956 and SL 60 million in 1957). Second, the increase of luxury imports by Syrian merchants hoping to enjoy better access to Egypt’s state-controlled market. Third, the drought inflicted substantial losses on the Syrian economy.14 The decision infuriated the president since it was taken without his approval and because it was expected to harm Syrian merchants. As a result, he called Syrian Vice-presidents Hourani and ‘Asali to Cairo to discuss the issue. It was reported that ‘Abd al-Nasir “angrily prepared rigid measures to assert his full weight and unquestioned control over the northern region.”13 Eventually, however, the decision was not reversed and the prices of luxury goods were further increased in August.16 Another misunderstanding - perhaps a deliberate one - occurred between ‘Abd al-Nasir and the Syrian ministers in charge of the Syrian budget. Since the economic integration was to be accomplished gradually, each region was to have its own budget for the time being. The only immediate change was the decision to begin the fiscal year in July instead of January. When the budget was finally submitted to the president in late June, he complained that Syria had been engaged in deficit spending. This theme was repeated in his speech, on the sixth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution, on 22 July, when he said: I am not satisfied with the accomplishments of the past five months in Syria, in the fields of development and production. I hope that we shall be able, after the studies now underway, to make up for the past five months and the budget deficit, to build a new reserve and to establish cooperation between the southern and northern regions as we are one nation and one republic.17


Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Syrian ministers engaged in preparing the budget flatly refuted ‘Abd alNasir’s allegations.18 The US Consul in Damascus suggested that his remarks were perhaps “motivated by selfish desire to duck responsibility for Syria’s troubles.” He thought, however, that the statement was a “frank admission of [a] regrettable situation without attempt to fix blame.”19Hourani’s speech at the opening of the Damascus International Fair in early September confirmed this assessment. Admitting that Syrian reserves had indeed been used, he was proud that despite the bad harvest and the drop in oil royalties, Syria was continuing to build a strong army while introducing social reforms.20 On 11 August 1958, the budget for the fiscal year 1958/59 was finally approved by ‘Abd al-Nasir. The Syrian budget was estimated at LS 461 million - an increase of LS 45 million over calendar year 1957. Almost 60 per cent of the Syrian budget went to the military and security (LS 271 million) compared to 27 per cent of the Egyptian budget (LE 78.9 million out of LE 295.5 million). The increase was calculated on the promise of LS 25 million - a gift from Egypt, and on approximately LS 18.8 million allegedly deposited by Interior Minister Sarraj “from the Saudi coup money.”21 Significantly, the Syrian budget was issued from Cairo, not Damascus, following major changes introduced by the president. Since July 1958, the pace of economic integration had been accelerated. First, Egyptian and Syrian civil aviation bodies were amalgamated in July. Second, a presidential decree on 23 August dissolved the Syrian Chamber of Agriculture. The new organization was to be under virtual control of the Ministry of Agriculture. Thus, an independent organization representing economic interests turned into a governmental instrument aiming to control those interests. This measure was probably intended to pave the way for a swift introduction of the Agrarian Reform Law (see below). Third, the free import system in Syria was changed. Since August 1958, priority was to be given to imports from the Arab countries and from a group of countries with which Syria had had a favorable balance of trade in 1957, as well as countries with which it had payments agreements (which included all of the eastern-bloc countries and China). This measure aimed to re-direct the pattern of Syrian foreign trade on the lines of the Egyptian trade. Fourth, a joint authority for petroleum affairs was established on 29 September. The new organization was to function as a central planning organ for petroleum policy in the UAR.22The most significant economic measure taken during the first year was the introduction of the Agrarian reform in September.


Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere

The Agrarian Reform Law In Egypt, the Agrarian Reform Law (ARL) was initiated in September 1952, only six weeks after the Free Officers’ military coup. Politically, the Egyptian law aimed to diminish the power of the big landowning oligarchy. Economically, since the rate of population growth exceeded the rate of increase of agricultural production, the reform was intended to divert private capital from the land market to industry, thus increasing employment and national income. Socially, the law aimed to correct the old inequality in land distribu­ tion and to raise the standard of living of many landless Egyptian peasants (estimated at 1.3 million families).23 The Egyptian ARL fixed a 200-feddan (1 feddan = 1.038 acres or 4,200.8 square meters) ceiling on personal ownership. According to the law, owners could transfer 100 feddan to their children, subject to a maximum of 50 feddan per child. The owners were allowed to retain, within the ceiling, part of the estate and to sell land to their tenants in small plots. All lands above the ceiling were to be requisitioned within five years. Landlords were entitled to compen­ sation equivalent to seventy times the basic land tax, to be paid in the form of bonds with 3 per cent annual interest and redeemable in thirty years. The con­ fiscated land was to be distributed in small lots - 2-5 feddan to tenants and permanent workers of the estate, farmers with large families, and the poorest members of the village.24 Since the political aim of the Egyptian agrarian reform had largely been attained, ‘Abd al-Nasir hoped that a similar reform would eliminate, or at least substantially reduce, the power of the Syrian landowning élite. Until 1958, the agrarian structure in Syria resembled the “feudal” system. This élite possessed large estates in the regions of Aleppo, Homs, and Hama; in contrast, 82 per cent of the rural population was either landless or owned small individual holdings. The reform was also intended to weaken the commercial middle class, which owned large estates in the new developing areas of the Jazira and the Euphrates Valley.25 Until the establishment of the UAR, Syrian governments had done very little to promote agrarian reform. Even the partial attempts made by the Shishakli regime in 1952-53 met no success.26 Since its establishment, the Ba‘th Party had advocated agrarian reform as a measure for achieving social justice. Akram Hourani himself came from the Hama region and enjoyed the peasants’ support. From youth, wrote Nabil Kaylani, “he shared with the Ba’thists that forceful nationalism mixed with genuine concern for the plight of the masses, especially the peasants, which made him an unregenerate foe of the landowners.”27 Thus, with the formation of the UAR, the Ba‘th Party was in a better position to promote its socioeconomic platform. This coincided with ‘Abd al-Nasir’s 75

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere intention of strengthening his hold over the Syrian region by weakening the traditional local élite. On 27 September 1958, the president decreed the Agrarian Reform Law. It limited maximum individual holdings to 80 hectares (hectare = 2.471 acres) of irrigated land or 300 hectares of rain-fed land. In addition, the owner was entitled to dispose of 10 hectares of irrigated land or 40 hectares of non-irrigated land to his wife and his children provided that the total amount would not exceed 40 hectares of irrigated land or 160 hectares of non-irrigated. Land in excess of the fixed ownership was to be expropriated within a period of five years. Every proprietor of land in excess of the maximum was ordered to notify the Ministry of Agrarian Reform within three months. Land confiscated under the law was to be compensated for in an amount equal to ten times the average rental value computed over a three-year period. The amount was to be paid in government bonds bearing an interest rate of 1.5 per cent and redeemable in forty yearly installments. Distribution was to be in lots not exceeding eight hectares of irrigated land or 30 hectares of non-irrigated land to landless farmers. The total area subject to expropriation and redistribution was estimated at 1,545,635 hectares, of which only 94,109 hectares (6 per cent) enjoyed means of irrigation.28 To financially and professionally assist the new farmers in cultivating their lands, the law provided for the formation of Agricultural Cooperative Societies (ACS). Every peasant receiving land was required to join an ACS, which was intended to fulfill functions previously assumed by landlords, and to provide credit and technical assistance to the new farmer. The capital of the Agricultural Bank was increased to SL 100 million in order to make loans available to farmers and the ACS.29 In addition, an Agrarian Reform Institute (ARI) was established by the president, to be headed by the minister of agrarian reform. Responsible for implementing the agrarian reform, the ARI was to supervise state property, land survey, and land registration as well.30 The ARL was preceded by a new Agricultural Labor Law, announced by Minister of Agrarian Reform Mustafa Hamdun on 4 September 1958. It limited the landowners’ share, provided greater security for tenants and sharecroppers, set up wage tribunals for farm laborers, and permitted the formation of trade unions for agricultural workers, tenant farmers, and employers. In addition, the Ministry of Social Affairs was to allocate land in each village on which the farmers would build their own houses. Hamdun explained that the law was based on the system the UAR had adopted, that is, “a democratic, socialist, cooperative system eliminating feudalism.”31 The president, however, never allowed the formation of the unions. Closely related to these measures was the abolition of the Tribal Law on 29 September 1958. Since the late Ottoman period, and reinforced by the French 76

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere mandatory administration, tribal sheikhs had owned large estates while enjoying relatively wide autonomy within their domains.32 The Tribal Law of June 1956 established that members of tribes were not subject to the state’s civil and criminal legislation or to military conscription and could carry arms without licenses. Moreover, only tribal sheikhs could own land and select members for parliament. Thus, the abolition of the Tribal Law, along with the expected appli­ cation of the ARL to the tribal areas, was intended to destroy the powers of Syrian tribal leaders, who had traditionally been independent of the government in Jabal Druze and northern Syria.33 In spite of the fact that Egypt’s and Syria’s agrarian structures were completely different, the Syrian ARL was almost identical to the Egyptian one of 1952. The maximum areas of irrigated land set by the Syrian law, 80 and 120 hectares, corresponded to the Egyptian maximum, 200 and 300 feddans. Yet in a sense the Syrian law was more radical since the output per acre in Egypt was much greater than in Syria. In the intensively cultivated and irrigated area of Damascus, 100 hectares was considered a large holding; whereas in the exten­ sively cultivated area of Jazira, 1,000 hectares was considered a small farm. In other words, the fixed maximum holding was so small that it was uneconom­ ical to invest in labor-saving agricultural machinery in areas where the yield per unit of land was low and the shortage of labor was acute. Therefore, Warriner was right to observe that “the enforcement of the same acreage limitation meant imposing a lower income maximum.”34 The ARL also unnecessarily under­ mined the interests of cultivators in the “new” regions of the Jazira and the Euphrates Valley, who did not enjoy monopoly of landownership but derived their income from “the profits of risk-taking and investment.” Finally, the amount of land to be expropriated was greater in Syria as it was to include 60 per cent of the entire agricultural area.33 On 27 November 1958, ‘Abd al-Nasir made an important speech at the fourth Cooperative Congress in Cairo. While emphasizing the need to establish a “socialist, democratic and cooperative” society, he declared that “this gener­ ation shouldered the burden of struggle against the rule of feudalism and was able to realise its aim in limiting land ownership and redistributing the land.” He further asserted that as a result of the ARL in the northern region, “the total of people benefiting [from the reform] can be estimated at 1,200,000 persons who are being changed from hired hands to landowners.”36 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s figures were grossly exaggerated; according to Warriner, by January 1961 only 596,735 hectares had been requisitioned, of which 135,675 had been redistrib­ uted; recipients numbered 7,732 families, a total of 42,256 people.37 The president’s assertion that feudalism in Syria had been “eliminated” was wishful thinking; in fact, the law encountered strong local resistance from Syrian landowners and merchants. 77

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Coming on top of a drought, the closure of the Lebanese-Syrian border, and the resultant tax increases, the application of the ARL to the Syrian region deep­ ened the sense of gloom among the economic élite. Alfred Atherton, the US Consul in Aleppo, reported that industrialists, merchants, and landownwers considered the law as an “incentive to laziness” since it penalized those who had invested capital and effort in agricultural development. Moreover, they interpreted the law as “sure evidence that the present regime is determined to destroy them economically.”38 Edmond Homsi, President of the Chamber of Commerce in Aleppo, told Atherton that he had noticed a marked diminution of enthusiasm for union in agricultural, business, and industrial circles. Their main criticism was directed at the Ba‘th and Hourani personally; the latter was regarded as an opportunist who saw the law as a means to “settle scores with his old political enemies.”39 Although Homsi’s criticism might have stemmed from his desire to protect his own interests, his accusations were not baseless. Sayyid Mari’, the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture, claimed that the Syrian ministers demanded the appli­ cation of the Egyptian ARL to the Syrian region immediately after the formation of the union. He further recounted that following his visit to Syria before the union, he realized that the agricultural conditions there necessitated a different kind of law. The dispute between him and Mustafa Hamdun, the Syrian Minister for Social Affairs, ended with the application of the ARL.40 It is possible, then, that in their eagerness to break the power of the economic élite, Ba‘th ministers were willing to apply the Egyptian law regardless of the conditions in Syria. They reasonably assumed that an in-depth study of Syria’s agrarian conditions would have required postponement of this important measure. In an attempt to introduce changes in the ARL, a delegation of distinguished landowners went to Cairo in mid-October with the intention of presenting their criticisms to ‘Abd al-Nasir. But the delegation was only able to meet with Mar‘i, who listened attentively to their complaints but did nothing to alleviate their fears.41 On 17 December, however, ‘Abd al-Nasir invited a large Syrian dele­ gation representing the chambers of commerce, industry, and agriculture to discuss their grievances. The delegation submitted a memorandum setting forth their complaints about Syria’s economic predicament. They emphasized the inapplicability of Egyptian land restrictions to Syria because of the relatively higher income per land unit in Egypt; the farmers’ inability to pay their debts; and the disrupting of the relationship between the landowner, sharecropper, and farmer leading to neglect of the land and reduced production. It was stated that they “do not in principle object to social justice, but the law was never con­ sidered in the light of conditions prevailing in the Syrian province.”42 Although the delegation was respectfully treated, ‘Abd al-Nasir made no changes in the ARL. 78

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Syrian local discontent also occasionally led to demonstrations by merchants in Damascus and Aleppo. Moreover, foreign observers reported that landowners refused to sow lands intended for confiscation. Various reports even hinted that the Syrian situation “may blow up any minute,” and that “the UAR will shortly be dissolved.”43 At that point, US Consul Atherton was correct to assess that the landowners and merchants were not “the elements who make revolutions.” Still, one should not underestimate the seriousness of their complaints. The government ignored the appeals for revision and immediately acted to implement the ARL. On 20 November 1958, Mustafa Hamdun ordered the confiscation of the properties of twenty-five specified landowners. The govern­ ment had selected for its initial test of strength a fairly representative group, mainly from the Aleppo area. The major families affected by the decree were the following: Atasi, Rustum, Kikhya, Mudarris and Hallaj (former Populists); Suwaydan, Shurayta, Junay, Baha’ al-Din, Rifa‘i, Hiraki and Barudi (former Nationalists); Barazi, Kaylani, ‘Azm, Thabit and ‘Abd al-Razzaq (miscella­ neous old regime). Further lists were announced in December 1958.44 On the other hand, the government attempted to pacify farmers and investors who complained of a lack of machinery and funds necessary to cultivate lands. Thus, in late December Hamdun presented a plan to finance agricultural operations through the Agricultural Bank, to be implemented in the summer of 1959.45 Eventually, the application of the ARL to the Syrian region was a grave blunder. From an economic point of view, the law was not necessary for further development of the Syrian agriculture sector, which was rapidly expanding since World War EL Once it was decided to apply the law, its terms ignored the geographic, economic and climatic differences between the two regions. While in Egypt the Nile is the major source of irrigation, some Syrian lands are rainfed with great differences between the amount of rain in various areas. This distinction affected the amount of produce grown per acre. The fact that the Syrian law was similar to the Egyptian one substantiated claims that the Egyptians were in fact colonizing Syria without paying due regard to its peculiar conditions. Many Syrians voiced bitterness at the fact that the law simply “does not fit” Syria.46 It was also a mistake to impose the law in the middle of a heavy drought, since it only exacerbated the already depressed mood in Syria. Above all, the law failed to achieve its main aim: to crush the power of the traditional landowning and commercial élites. On the contrary, it succeeded in alienating these powerful groups, which initially supported the union. In the long run, this development was significant since these groups played a crucial role in the destruction of the union in September 1961.


Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere

Toward a More Integrated Economy From September 1958, ‘Abd al-Nasir acted more vigorously to integrate the two economies. On 1 September, following intensive consultations between Qaysuni, the Egyptian Minister of Economy, and Kallas, his Syrian counter­ part, it was agreed to eliminate all customs duties between the two regions with the exception of nine competitive commodities.47During the same month, ‘Abd al-Nasir approved the ten-year economic development program for the Syrian region, which envisaged the expenditure of LS 2,168 million ($616 million) for the whole period. Sixty five per cent was allocated for the improvement of irri­ gation and increase of hydroelectric power. The Soviet loan of December 1957, which provided Syria with a long-term line of credit amounting to $150 million was earmarked for use in financing part of the foreign exchange costs.48 The tendency toward economic centralization was reinforced by the forma­ tion of a new government on 7 October 1958. Whereas in the previous cabinet only the Ministry of Industry covered both regions, the new body included six central ministers in various economic spheres - communications, economy, supply, agriculture, agrarian reform, and industry. The composition of the new government was intended to ensure greater economic coordination between the two regions while maintaining Egyptian domination of decision making.49 These measures were followed by a significant statement by Central Minister of Economy Qaysuni. Being an ardent supporter of full and immediate economic integration, he exploited the opportunity that a new, centralized government afforded. On 17 October, only ten days after its formation, he declared that full economic unity between the two regions would be achieved by July 1959. He added that a new currency, the Arab Dinar, would soon replace the Syrian and Egyptian pounds.30 A few days later, he announced the setting up of committees to study the possibility of increasing trade exchanges and the measures needed to unify the currencies.31 The Syrian business community received these statements with anxiety and dismay. Within a few days, the value of the Syrian pound dropped by almost 40 per cent - the sharpest decline since the unofficial rate was accepted in 1952 - and a substantial amount of capital that flowed to Lebanese banks was converted into gold and foreign exchange. Moreover, the prices of certain imported goods rose sharply; even the prices of local commodities were raised considerably.32 In an attempt to halt this trend, Syrian Minister of Economy Kallas asserted, following his visit to Cairo, that the two currencies would be unified only after the completion of joint studies that would ascertain the true relative value of both currencies. He made it clear that the growth of interre­ gional trade would not affect the foreign trade of each region, and that private investors would be encouraged to take part in various projects.33 80

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Kallas’ statement did not placate the Syrians. Many believed that the Syrian Office des Changes was deliberately refusing to intervene to support the free exchange value of the pound, with the intention of allowing it to fall to its official value in relation to Egyptian currency so as to facilitate currency uni­ fication.54 On 18 December, the Ministry of Economy declared that “the increase in the prices of foreign currency in the free market is due to no economic reason and its causes are fabricated by evil-minded persons and usurers who seek to gamer profits at the expense of innocent citizens.’’ It was further stated that “the Syrian currency is very strong and its standing has in no way altered, thanks to the prudent economic and financial policy of the state.”55 However, the continuing deterioration in the value of the Syrian pound compelled the government to postpone the decision. In January 1959, VicePresident and Minister of Planning Baghdadi announced that the currencies would not be unified at present. This meant that Qaysuni’s school of thought, advocating an immediate economic integration, had been defeated, at least for the time being.56 The deterioration of the pound reflected not only fears of currency amalgam­ ation. It also indicated a general loss of confidence in the Syrian economy, reaching its peak in December 1958 and causing a paralysis of trading activi­ ties. An economic newspaper aptly assessed that “current instability. . . in Syria is dominated by a fear psychosis. Nobody seems to have any trust in the methods applied by UAR leaders. Despite all the schemes, all the economic agreements concluded, activity in the business field is small and so is the purchasing power of the people.”57 On 8 November, in the midst of the currency crisis, Central Minister of Industry ‘Aziz Sidqi announced the inauguration of a five-year industrial development plan. This came in the wake of the above-mentioned ten-year development program launched in September 1958. Involving twenty-three industrial projects, the cost of the five-year plan was estimated at SL 560 million ($157 million). 40 per cent of the outlays were designated for the development of the petroleum industry. The plan aimed at providing 100,000 jobs and at increasing the national income by 12 per cent. Sidqi explained that since the northern and southern regions constituted one state, the Syrian plan was formu­ lated to complement the Egyptian five-year industrialization plan launched in January 1957 (and modified in December 1959). He did not explain, however, from what source - other than the government - the foreign exchange would be drawn.58 The plan’s main goal was to create an atmosphere of greater confidence that would encourage the investment of private capital. To facilitate this develop­ ment, it was decided to set up an industrial bank with capital of SL 12.5 million.59 It met, however, strong criticism from the Syrian Minister of 81

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Economy. He claimed that Syrian experts had not been consulted in advance, that the plan was hastily drawn up so as to serve Egypt’s interests while neglecting Syria’s development needs, and that it was publicized for the sake of “propaganda and deception” in the midst of an economic crisis.60

The Higher Ministerial Committee (HMC) While visiting Cairo in mid-December 1958, a Syrian commercial delegation suggested that an Egyptian economic commission would study Syria’s economic problems. “If we send people to Syria,” ‘Abd al-Nasir was reported to respond, “it is said that they have come to rule; if we do not send anybody, it is said that the Egyptians do not care.”61 The suggestion, however, did not pass unnoticed; on 23 December, in his Victory Day speech at Port Sa‘id, ‘Abd al-Nasir admitted that there was a “slackness” in implementing development projects in the Syrian region. Hence, he decided to send a tripartite commission headed by Vice-President Baghdadi, which included Hourani and Central Minister of the Interior Zakaria Muhi al-Din. The commission, known as the Higher Ministerial Committee (HMC), arrived in Damascus on 3 January 1959 and completed its activities on 15 January.62 The commission’s aims, according to the Arab press, were fourfold: to study the obstacles to implementation of projects; to stimulate economic activity; to study the public services program; and to expedite the formation of the National Union. Since ‘Abd al-Nasir wanted to show that a sincere effort had been made to relieve Syria’s economic plight, the HMC was given wide publicity. Within those two hectic weeks, it met several times with the Syrian Executive Council, consulted with government officials, reviewed all previous legislation, and met with groups representing various economic interests (Federation of Labor Unions, Damascus Chambers of Commerce, Industry, and Agriculture, merchants, etc.). In addition, Syrian ministers submitted draft programs for the HMC consideration.63 The HMC came to the conclusion that the agricultural and oil industries constituted Syria’s main potential areas of economic development. Therefore, some of the decisions were intended to encourage investment in these fields. This accorded with Egypt’s desire that the northern region develop as a comple­ mentary, rather than a competitive, market to the southern region. To show quick results, the HMC first decided to implement those development projects that did not entail large investment. Whereas the immediate projects were to be carried out primarily by private investment - mainly by private Egyptian invest­ ment - the long-term projects were to be based on foreign loans.64 The HMC main decisions may be summarized as follows:63 82

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere Transportation: To construct the Latakiyya-Qamishli railway, financed with Soviet assistance in accordance with the Soviet-Syrian economic agreement of October 1957. It was decided to approve the construction of the Qamishli-Dayrik road along the Turkish border, and the improvement of the Aleppo-Latakiyya-Tartus road, the expansion of the bridges on the coastal road connecting Latakiyya and Damascus. It was decided also to repair the Raqqa Bridge, construct a new Raqqa automobile railway bridge, and build three bridges over the Khabur. These plans reflected the assessment that a better transportation network would lower the cost of agricultural produce. Agriculture: To approve the five-year agricultural plan (details of which were not disclosed) and to reorganize the Ministry of Agriculture. In the context of the ARL, it was decided to increase the capital of the Agricultural Bank so that peasants could take out substantial loans with relatively low interest that would enable them to cultivate their newly acquired lands. The HMC also made several decisions concerning the cotton market, which stemmed from the decrease in production and the difficulties in marketing the cotton during the 1957/58 season. First, immediate steps were taken to sell ginned cotton left from the last season. Second, the government promised to protect cotton producers by buying the crop and finding export markets. Third, the Misr Company for Ginned Cotton was to take part in marketing the Syrian cotton through the establishment of a company with joint Egyptian-Syrian capital. Finally, it was decided to build a cotton storehouse in Latakiyya. The HMC also made specific decisions concerning the Huran area, which perhaps suffered most from the drought. Irrigation: It was decided to expedite the construction of the Roudj and al-Senn projects (in northern Syria), and to carry out the extension of the existing Mzerib (in the Huran) irrigation project. Industry: The five-year industrialization plan (see above) had been approved. In addition, the HMC authorized the opening of the Industrial Bank (it actually opened on 9 February 1959), which had previously been provided for by pres­ idential decree. Petroleum: A draft budget for the General Petroleum Authority for the remaining six months of the fiscal year was approved. In addition, the HMC approved plans to exploit the Karatchok oil field and to train personnel for the Homs refinery. Currency: The HMC announced that there would be no currency unification in the near future. In addition, the Misr Bank was to establish four new branches 83

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere in Syria. A presidential decree also authorized the National Bank of Egypt to make loans to Syrian individuals and companies for development purposes. A similar authority was granted to the Syrian Central Bank. Building: It was decided to enable the Egyptian Company for Construction and Popular Houses to carry out housing activities in the northern region. Tourism: It was decided to establish tourist projects in Damascus and Latakiyya. To the average Syrian, the HMC seemed to make an impressive work.66 In reality, however, the remarkable speed with which the HMC was able to complete its work was due in no small measure to the fact that most of the suggested projects were taken from a report written by a delegation of the Inter­ national Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD) that visited Syria in 1954-55.67 Most of the IBRD projects had not been implemented because of a lack of private or public capital, as well as the unstable political climate prevailing in Syria in the period preceding the union. The HMC immediate aim was to restore confidence in the Syrian economy. In this it partially succeeded, as indicated by the stabilization of the free exchange rate of the Syrian pound. However, most of the projected plans were not completed - or even started - before the disintegration of the UAR. Perhaps the most important outcome was ‘Abd al-Nasir’s realization that the process of economic integration should be much more gradual.68 Although it completed its work by mid-January 1959, the HMC was never officially dissolved, and it reportedly continued to discuss Syrian affairs.69 On 22 February 1959, Egyptians and Syrians celebrated the first anniversary of the UAR. To mark this occasion, ‘Abd al-Nasir came to Syria for a month­ long visit - his only third since the formation of the union. Initially accompanied by Yugoslav President Tito and Yemeni Crown Prince Badr, ‘Abd al-Nasir toured all parts of the northern region. As expected, his eloquent but repetitive speeches on the UAR accomplishments during its first year met with ardent applause.70 Yet beyond the rhetoric, signs of resentment in the economic sphere were already visible. The plethora of decrees imposed on the Syrian region within the first year of the union, coming on top of an unexpected drought, alienated the Syrian economic élite, which had basically supported the forma­ tion of the UAR. On the other hand, those who were supposed to benefit from the reforms were still unable to enjoy the fruits of this policy. Thus, beneath the enthused welcome that ‘Abd al-Nasir received in Syria, the seeds of downfall were already sown.


5 A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres (February 1959-February 1960)

The Impact of the Iraqi Shawwaf Revolt On 7 March 1959, an Iraqi officer named Colonel ‘Abd al-Wahhab al-Shawwaf, Commander of the Mosul Garrison, instigated a rebellion. The next day, Radio Mosul proclaimed that a “mad tyrant” who instigated a “violent war against the Arab nation” had corrupted the revolution of 14 July 1958. It further called upon Qasim to resign along with the communists and other “opportunist groups.” UAR flags were reportedly flown in Mosul during the revolt. After four days of severe fighting, the army crushed the uprising and Shawwaf himself was killed. The revolt and the events that followed it claimed a toll of victims esti­ mated at 2,426.' The alleged involvement of the UAR in the Iraqi revolt opened between them vicious propaganda warfare. UAR-Iraqi relations had been deteriorating, in fact, since November 1958. This was directly connected with the arrest and trial of ‘Arif, the major force behind the UAR-Iraqi thaw. At the same time, Egyptian efforts to coordinate military planning against Israel were rebuffed by the Iraqi authorities.2The Iraqi “cold shoulder” attitude led ‘Abd al-Nasir to launch a campaign intended to undermine Qasim’s regime. A special team was allegedly set up, headed by Kamal al-Din R ifat, Deputy of the Egyptian General Intelligence Directorate. The activity was conducted from two bases along the Syrian-Iraqi border: Dir al-Zor and Kamishli. Another base was located at the Egyptian embassy in Baghdad, headed by the military attaché, Col. ‘Abd al-Majid Farid. This team was allegedly connected with Rashid ‘Ali al-Kaylani’s coup on 9 December 1958. A hero of the 1941 national Iraqi uprising who returned to Baghdad after seventeen years of exile, Rashid ‘Ali was responsible for an ill-organized coup supported by tribes in the Euphrates region. Various sources claimed that the 85

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres UAR - where Kaylani spent the last phase of his exile - financed and equipped the rebels. Once in power, Kaylani was to forge closer relations between Iraq and the UAR.3 Undoubtedly, Iraq’s independent posture posed a serious challenge to ‘Abd al-Nasir. His conversations with foreign diplomats revealed that he was consumed with the Iraqi situation. His major concern was the impact of Qasim’s independent stance on the prestige and integrity of the UAR as the declared vanguard of Arab nationalism. Although ‘Abd al-Nasir’s assertion that he was not interested in Iraq’s adherence to the UAR was probably sincere, he still wanted to see Qasim acknowledge his moral and political leadership. In the words of Arnold Smith, the astute Canadian ambassador in Cairo, Qasim was jeopardizing “Nasser’s ambition to bring about a form of Arab union, even one based o n . . . a position of hegemony for Cairo and for himself.”4 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s second concern was the activity of the Iraqi Communist Party. Although he succeeded in suppressing the Syrian communists in late December 1958, he was powerless with regard to the Iraqi branch, which openly denounced him and the UAR. He was particularly annoyed when a group of communists demonstrated in front of the UAR embassy in Baghdad on Anniversary Day. It came to his knowledge that links existed between the Syrian and Iraqi communist parties as manifested in their cooperation during the 21st Congress in Moscow (27 January-5 February 1959).5 Moreover, he believed that a communist plan had been concocted “to destroy the UAR and establish a fertile ‘red’ crescent in which Baghdad would become headquarters of the Communist revolution against Arab nationalism.”6 No evidence of such a conspiracy was found, but ‘Abd al-Nasir’s belief in it was no less real. Thus, it is reasonable to assume that upon hearing the news of the Shawwaf revolt in Mosul - while celebrating the first anniversary of the UAR in Syria - he hoped to see Qasim finally removed from power. There are indications that the Iraqi allegations against the UAR involvement were not entirely baseless. It was later claimed before the Mahdawi Special Supreme Military Court that Shawwaf s headquarters kept in direct contact with the UAR participants in the plot, and that ‘Amir and Sarraj were closely observing the developments. Moreover, there is evidence that Radio Mosul was transmitting from the Syrian side of the border.7 Interested parties such as Iraqi and Israeli sources claimed that the UAR ambassador in Baghdad acted as an intermediary between the rebels and UAR authorities.8 The fact that the revolt occurred during ‘Abd al-Nasir’s visit to Syria may have been sheer coincidence; yet if there was coordination between the rebels and the UAR, the president’s presence in a neighboring country might have been useful, especially had the conspiracy succeeded.9 ‘Abd al-Nasir himself never admitted complicity in the Mosul revolt, but from his talks with foreign diplomats it seems that he was 86

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres well acquainted with the details.10 Interestingly enough, Iraqi accusations compelled the UAR to issue a statement on 7 April 1959 denying any involve­ ment in the revolt." Historically, the question of whether the UAR was indeed involved in the revolt is less significant than the fact that the Iraqi accusations intensified the Iraqi-UAR propaganda war, which had resumed in January 1959 as a result of the UAR campaign against the Syrian and Iraqi communists.12 Indeed, the Shawwaf revolt brought the propaganda war to a climax. From 11 March 1959, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches in the Syrian region concentrated on the UAR-Iraqi dispute. The Iraqi leader was disparagingly called Qasim al- ‘Iraq (a play on his name, meaning “the Divider of Iraq”), and his regime was depicted as a “second edition” of Nuri al-Sa‘id’s infamous ancien regime. Attacking Qasim’s associ­ ation with “communist agents,” ‘Abd al-Nasir declared that Arab nationalism constituted a “huge dam against communism.” 13 The whole Egyptian propaganda apparatus led by al-Ahram was mobilized for the anti-Qasim campaign.14 In addition, many political rallies - called “Victory in Iraq” rallies and devoted to whipping up popular passions against Qasim - were held in Syria during April-May 1959.15 Naturally, ‘Abd alNasir’s attacks on the Iraqi communists displeased the Soviet Union, leading Nikita Khruschev to depict him as a “hot-headed young man who has taken on more than he can manage.” 16The US, on the other hand, immediately expressed appreciation for ‘Abd al-Nasir’s “forthright uncompromising stand against Communist inroads [in the] Arab states.” As a result, the UAR was to receive economic assistance and help in military training.17 In response to the Egyptian attacks, Iraqi propaganda compared ‘Abd alNasir’s methods with Hitler’s and Mussolini’s, and ridiculed Syria’s annexation by Egypt.18 There was also an unconfirmed report that six Iraqi communists left Baghdad on 15 March on an “assassinate-Nasser-or-die mission.”19 In May, the former UAR Chief-of-Staff, ‘Afif al-Bizri, who received political asylum in Iraq, joined the Iraqi campaign against the UAR.20 Sensing that his legitimacy and popularity in the Arab world were on the wane, ‘Abd al-Nasir made several moves to improve his domestic standing. First, he called an emergency meeting of the Egyptian and Syrian 4ulanuT aimed at denouncing the Iraqi propaganda and expressing support for the policy of ‘Abd al-Nasir, the “champion of Islam and Arabism.”21 Realizing that Islam constituted a powerful tool against the communists, ‘Abd al-Nasir made frequent references to the fact that the latter were atheists and non-Muslims.22 Second, Kamal al-Din Husayn, Central Minister of Education, decided to strengthen the national consciousness of high-school students through the study of the principles of Arab nationalism and Islam, thereby protecting them from the spread of imperialist and communist ideas.23 In late August 1959, a 87

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres conference of teachers, held in Alexandria, under the sponsorship of the UAR Ministry of Education, recommended certain measures to enhance Arab national consciousness.24 Third, Minister for Presidential Affairs, ‘Abd alQadir Hatem, reportedly prepared a general “cultural program” aimed at “explaining the philosophic foundations” of UAR policy while highlighting the perils of a communist-based policy.25 The deterioration in Egyptian-Iraqi relations led to a special meeting of the Political Committee of the Arab League (2-7 April 1959) in Beirut to discuss the dispute. The meeting, however, failed to heal the breach. A striking fact was that the Arab delegations stood up to the UAR and were not “dragooned into anything like obedience.” As a result, wrote a British official, “Nasser’s authority has clearly diminished to an extent he must find disquieting.”26 By early June 1959, the volume and content of invective between Iraq and the UAR had markedly declined. This resulted from an exchange of secret messages between the two leaders through the prime minister of the Algerian provisional government.27 Both leaders realized that the dispute only served to weaken their domestic legitimacy. The UAR media had succeeded in stigma­ tizing Qasim as an opponent of Arab nationalism. Nevertheless, the fact that he refused to acknowledge that “Cairo is the base and capital of every Arab struggle from Oman to Algeria,”28constantly reminded the public that the UAR had not become the nucleus of the Great Arab State. Moreover, it emphasized that the Iraqis - in contrast to the Syrians - were unwilling to lose their own identity. When ‘Abd al-Nasir realized that he could not force the Iraqis to acknowledge Egypt’s leadership, he opted for a truce that would allow him to concentrate on his more pressing problems in Syria. In conclusion, the Shawwaf revolt and the Beirut conference were signifi­ cant episodes that revealed the limits of Egypt’s power. Heikal observed that the two events constituted “much more than a mere tactical change of pace. It is the end of an era.” He added that it was impossible “to get Arab unity with such disparate regimes as ours here [Cairo], Qasim in Iraq, King Hussein in Jordan, a feudal monarchy in Saudi Arabia, and the views of Arabs in North Africa. The real task of our generation,” he concluded, “is to develop our own country. Some psychological basis may be laid for Arab unity, but its realiza­ tion will be for two or three generations from now.”29 Since Heikal, the editor of al-Ahram, was a close adviser of ‘Abd al-Nasir, his astonishing remarks to the Canadian ambassador reveal a considerable measure of disenchantment with the pan-Arab ideal.30


A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres

Elections to the National Union Based on the 1956 Egyptian constitution, the 1958 UAR provisional consti­ tution envisaged the formation of a National Union (NU) (a l-ittih a d al-qaw m i) aimed at “the realization of national aims and the intensification of the efforts for raising a sound national structure.” It was further stipulated that the presi­ dent would decide “the manner in which such a union is to be formed.”31 The formation of the NU was intended to achieve several objectives for the regime. First, to mobilize popular support via an organization that filled the vacuum left in the Egyptian and Syrian political systems by the dissolution of the parties. Second, to provide a channel for disseminating ideology and interpreting policies. Third, to increase control of the country while maintaining the façade of democratic freedoms. And, finally, aid in creating a “democratic, socialist, cooperative society.”32 The first grass-roots organization of this kind, the Liberation Rally (h a y ’a t al-tah rir), was set up by the Free Officers in January 1953.33 With the establishment of the NU in November 1957, the Liberation Rally was dissolved, its assets transferred to the new organization and Anwar al-Sadat, Chairman of the Liberation Rally, was appointed NU SecretaryGeneral. The establishment of the UAR interrupted the formation of the NU in Egypt. As soon as the flurry of excitement over the union had died down, an effort began to complete the NU structure by 15 May. The urgency was dictated by the regime’s desire to set up a similar organization in the Syrian region, which would pave the way for the formation of the UAR National Assembly. In March 1958, a presidential decree dissolved all political parties, stipulating that their funds shall revert to the National Union.34 The target date, however, was not met; it was only after the Iraqi coup and the Lebanese crisis in mid-August 1958 that the NU returned to the limelight with the commencement of another campaign to complete its organization. In the second attempt, emphasis was placed on establishment of the Executive Committees for each province and electoral district, to be formally announced on 15 September 1958. When the day arrived, membership lists of only three provinces were announced; the subject then vanished without public explanation. Apparently, all of the other provinces failed to complete their membership lists within the timetable. Although the attempts to organize the provincial structure failed, the basic setup of the national headquarters of the NU had been established in October.35 Since it failed to develop any lower echelons, the NU activities had been confined primarily to printing propaganda and sponsoring political rallies. The attempts to set up the Syrian branch of the NU were even less successful. Following his visits to Syria in May-June 1958, Secretary-General Sadat 89

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres claimed that a strong attachment to the old political parties prevented the estab­ lishment of the NU.36The main force hindering the formation of the Syrian NU was the Ba‘th, which insisted on a dominant position in the new institution. The Ba‘th attached great importance to the NU since some members of the National Assembly, scheduled to convene in November 1959, were to be selected by ‘Abd al-Nasir from the members of the General Congress of the NU. Moreover, a presidential decree of 3 April 1958 determined that only NU members were allowed to stand for election as trade union board members and newspaper editors.37 Fearing that the new institution would weaken the supposedly dissolved party, the Ba‘th succeeded in delaying the process until mid-1959. With the suppression of the communists in the Syrian region in late December 1958, ‘Abd al-Nasir felt strong enough to make a third bid to form the NU. Beginning in January 1959, an indoctrination campaign in the UAR media emphasized that the NU was a “national framework” for struggling against imperialism and communism and not a political party representing sectarian interests.38This theme was further elaborated by ‘Abd al-Nasir on the eve of the UAR Anniversary Day: I consider the organisation and existence of the National Union as something of extreme importance [my emphasis] because it is the means with which we will organise ourselves and establish a political and social democracy. . . [W]e should begin at once the formation of the National Union in all parts of the Republic. It was already formed in the Egyptian region, but not in the Syrian region. It has been decided that the National Union should be so organised as to represent all the people in a democratic manner. For this reason we shall conduct elections in which everyone eligible to vote in Egypt and Syria can take part to elect to the executive committees of the National Union. Thus the people will choose their representatives, and a link will be created between the people and the committees representing them. These elections will begin at the end of Ramadan [i.e., 10 April 1959].39

On 15 May 1959, slightly behind schedule, ‘Abd al-Nasir promulgated the law providing for the election of NU local committees.40 Scheduled for 8 July, the elections were intended to be the initial stage of a pyramidal electoral struc­ ture. Members of the local committees would elect from among themselves the members of the councils representing cities and provisional towns. These in turn would elect the members of the provincial councils. The NU General Congress would be made up of all members of the thirty-three provincial councils in the Egyptian and Syrian regions. This process would culminate with the furnishing of a cadre from which the president would choose members of the National Assembly. Thus, the structure of the NU was pyramidal, begin­ ning at the village, district capital or town quarter level, and going up, through 90

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres the province or govemorate, to the regional and UAR congresses (see figure 5.1).41 Having decided to build the NU structure from the bottom up instead of the previous practice of starting at the top, the regime was able to portray this as the boldest pattern of democracy in history. Egyptian commentary on the NU often described it as an “Athenian-type democracy.” This figment was partic­ ularly enhanced by the fact that every registered voter, whether formerly a member of a political party or turned down for nomination in the 1957 elec­ tions, had been permitted nomination as a candidate in the local elections. Further impetus to this fiction came from the decision not, as originally announced, to set up a “screening committee” that would pass final approval of the candidates before allowing them to stand for election. In spite of these outwardly democratic procedures, it was obvious that the president would not “allow the National Union in its final form to become a true instrument of demo­ cratic expression,” but would use it to exercise tight political control.42 After a dormant political period since the dissolution of the parties in March 1958, hectic activity was observed in the Syrian region between 15 May and 8 July. Although the actual significance of the elections was negligible, they assumed great symbolic importance as a first test of Ba‘th strength. Some considered the elections to be the real referendum on the union.43 Some 30,210

The National Assembly UAR General Congress Provincial Congresses (Egyptian and Syrian) 33 Regional Councils (22 Egyptian, 9 Syrian) Local Committees (in Villages and Towns) 8 Million Voters

Figure 5.1

Pyramidal structure of the National Union 91

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres applications were submitted for the 9,445 local committee memberships to be filled.44 Forbidden to operate within the party system, many former politicians hoped to return to political life through the NU elections. Moreover, former members of the “conservative” parties hoped to use the elections to punish the Ba‘th for what they considered its partisan attitude within the Syrian adminis­ trative system. Overcoming their previous animosities, former members of the People’s and National parties, as well as “independents,” collaborated to form accepted lists that excluded candidates associated with the Ba'th.45 The forma­ tion of voting lists in advance compelled many Ba‘th candidates to withdraw from the elections. In Aleppo, which was mainly controlled by the populist Rushdi al-Kikhya and nationalist Mikhail Ilian, all known Ba’thists withdrew from the elections. All in all, 344 of 1,745 candidates withdrew from the elec­ tions in Aleppo, leading to the automatic election of many anti-Ba‘th candidates.46 As election day approached, ‘Abd al-Nasir himself joined the campaign. In a widely publicized interview in al-Ahram, the president emphasized that “the National Union is not a single party but an entire homeland, meeting inside one framework in which all become equal.”47 Although to his Egyptian audience ‘Abd al-Nasir’s remarks seemed sound, Syrians perceived the NU entirely differently: to them, the elections were an opportunity to settle scores and revive party politics. The US Ambassador in Damascus rightly concluded that “Cairo’s unrealistic hopes for a nonpartisan election have been swallowed up in [the] quicksands of Syrian political animosities.”48 To this somewhat simplistic characterization, one must add that seven years after the suppression of pluralistic political activity, the atmosphere in Egypt was more congenial to the creation of the NU. In contrast, parties had been abolished in Syria only about a year ago and naturally party concepts still lingered.49 The massive withdrawals left in the election campaign only about 100-150 Ba‘thist candidates, including all Ba‘th ministers and other leading party members (like Sami al-Jundi). On election day (8 July), about 80-90 per cent of these candidates were elected, especially in the regions of Hama, Dir al-Zur, and Jabal Druze. Yet the fact that there were only about 100 Ba‘th members among the 9,445 members of the local committees (barely 1.5 per cent) signaled a humiliating defeat for the party. The defeat was not only the outcome of the elections. If all the 1,400 withdrawals had been Ba‘th (and probably they were not) and if all of them had been elected (which seems unlikely), still the party would not have enjoyed more than 17 per cent in the local committees.50 The devastating results of the Ba‘th marked the beginning of their withdrawal from the UAR government. On the morrow of the elections, ‘Aflaq already complained that Hourani and Bitar were being “kept in a golden coffin” in Cairo without any real influence, and that union on such a basis could not indefinitely 92

‘Abd al-Nasir and Quwwatli striding hand in hand into the future.

‘Abd al-Nasir and Quwwatli under way to visit the grave of Salah al-Din, in Damascus.


‘Abd al-Nasir’s visit to Moscow (May 1958); sightseeing with the Soviet Minister of Defense, along with Akram al-Hourani, UAR Vice-President (Syrian), ‘Abd al-Latif al-Baghdadi, UAR Vice-President (Egyptian) and ‘Ali Sabri, UAR Minister for Presidential Affairs (Egyptian).

‘Abd al-Nasir with Vice-President Hourani (shaking hands) and with UAR Minister for Internal Affairs, Zakaria Muhi al-Din (left).

The signing ceremony of the U A R -Yem en federation - the United Arab State (March 1958). The Yemen Crown Prince Badr (left), ‘Abd al-Nasir (centre), Quwwatli (right).

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres survive.31 To show his dissatisfaction with the procedures during the elections, Hourani attempted to resign, but was not allowed to by ‘Abd al-Nasir.52 The Ba‘th poor showing in the elections was due to three factors. First, the Syrian public held the party, and not ‘Abd al-Nasir, responsible for many of the hardships endured during the first year of the union. Playing a crucial role in the establishment of the UAR, Ba‘th leaders took advantage of their rela­ tively high position in the central and regional cabinets to the detriment of former members of rival parties. Resenting this behavior, many Syrians saw the elections as an opportunity to punish the Ba‘th for its misconduct.33 Second, the Ba‘th had never enjoyed mass support in Syria. In fact, one of the main factors that led party leaders to advocate a union with Egypt was their realization that they could not gain control of the government through the ballot box, at least not in the near future. Thus, the elections accentuated an existing trend: declining support for the party, especially in Damascus and Aleppo.34 The third reason for the Ba‘th poor showing was related to ‘Abd al-Nasir. By mid-1959, he concluded that it had become a liability rather than an asset. Many of the grievances he heard in Syria related to the “Ba‘thization” (tab ‘ith) of the local administration.33Once he realized that Syrian public discontent was directed at the Ba‘th, he thought to use it as “a lightning rod to divert criticism from himself.”36 Moreover, the election results indicated that ‘Abd al-Nasir no longer needed the Ba‘th. Whether he deliberately sought to undermine its chances in the elections is open to debate, but he certainly did as little as possible to support it. For example, Hourani, Bitar, Kallas, and Hamdun were allowed to leave Cairo only a day before the elections to promote their own and fellow Ba‘th associates’ campaigns.37 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s opposition to the revival of party politics was clearly expressed after the elections in his speech on 22 July, the seventh anniversary of Egypt’s revolution: Now I want to emphasize that the National Union can and will never be a contin­ uation of the parties system especially as regards Syria. We got rid of the party system in Egypt seven years ago, created the National Union, and in Syria allowed everybody to join. Those who regress into the party system and take their orders from their old party bosses are nothing but traitors for by doing so they defeat the prime purpose of the National Union and this benefits no one but our enemies. This / say clearly and wish it to be clear to all. No more parties, the parties are gone and over with, [emphasis mine]38

Exploiting the Ba*th humiliating defeat, ‘Abd al-Nasir announced several steps intended to further curb its influence. First, its organ al-Jamahir ceased publication after only thirteen weeks. Its circulation, reportedly, seldom 97

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres exceeded 6,000. Shortly afterward, another pro-Ba‘th newspaper, al-W ahda, was absorbed into the official UAR publishing house Dar al-Tahrir, ostensibly for financial reasons.59 Second, ‘Abd al-Nasir dismissed Riad al-Malki, Syrian Minister of National Guidance, who ironically heard the news over Radio Cairo; Malki was accused of having formulated his ministry’s policy on partisan lines. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s rift with Malki had begun when control of the Syrian Broadcasting Station had been transferred to the presidential office on the ground that Radio Damascus was openly supporting Ba‘thi candidates. Malki reportedly resigned his post but later withdrew at Bitar’s request.60 Moreover, ‘Abd al-Nasir resented Malki’s licensing of newspapers edited and published by Ba‘thists (i.e., al-Jam ah ir and al-W ahda). Thus, the timing of his dismissal was not necessarily connected with a specific event, but was meant to indicate that the era of party politics was over.

‘Amir’s Mission in Syria Early in the morning of 12 October 1959, Field Marshal ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir arrived unexpectedly in Latakiyya. His unforeseen visit naturally raised spec­ ulations. The widely held conjecture was that ‘Amir had come to settle a dispute over a list prepared by First Army Commander Jamal Faysal of many officers scheduled for forced retirement. It was further believed that ‘Amir had come to reassure Syrian officers that rumors inflamed by Iraqi propaganda of pay-cuts in the army were unfounded.61 In addition, ‘Amir’s visit came following Canadian and British reports that at least fourteen Circassian officers in the First Army had been arrested in the Aleppo region on charge of plotting against the state.62 The fact that during the first ten days of his visit ‘Amir dedicated most of the time to the army supposedly lent credence to the rumors. Between 12-21 October, he visited army camps, delivered several speeches to officers, and three times toured the Syrian-Israeli border.63 Although ‘Amir’s immediate aim was indeed to placate Syrian officers, his visit was part of a broader mission. On 14 October, ‘Abd al-Nasir sent Heikal, his permanent confidant, to inform the US ambassador that ‘Amir was “sched­ uled [to] remain in Syria for [a] period [of] three to four months.” Heikal vaguely remarked that ‘Amir was “to be present in order [to] have everything kept well in hand.”64Amir’s visit, therefore, was not intended to meet a specific need but had two general, somewhat contradictory, aims: to reduce, if not eliminate, the rising discontent over the union in Syria; and “to assure the continued loyalty and viability of the Northern Region,” especially in the economic sphere.65The visit should be seen as a modified version of the Higher Ministerial Committee, which quietly faded away around March 1959. 98

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres On 21 October 1959, the president promulgated three decrees. First, ‘Amir was invested with full powers to conduct Syrian affairs, and Syrian executive ministers were henceforth to be responsible to him. Second, ‘Amir was autho­ rized to supervise the organization of the NU in the Syrian region (Central Minister of Education Husayn was entrusted with this task in the Egyptian region). Third, the Syrian Propaganda and Information Department, heretofore under the control of former Syrian Minister of National Guidance Malki, was transferred to Central Interior Minister Sarraj.66 The fact that ‘Abd al-Nasir entrusted these responsibilities to ‘Amir, the individual in whom he had the most complete confidence, suggests that he attached great importance to the mission’s results. Undoubtedly, ‘Amir’s appointment was a blow to Sarraj’s attempts to direct Syrian affairs from his Interior Ministry; the transfer of the propaganda services to Sarraj seemed no more than a “sop to his vanity.”67 The decrees virtually made ‘Amir the sole governor - “viceroy” or “proconsul” as his critics put it - of Syria. Although the UAR constitution allowed ‘Abd al-Nasir to issue such a decree, the move resembled a kind of military coup since no Syrian had been consulted about it in advance. In the influential Lebanese daily al-Jarida, Tawfiq Maqdisi averred that the “coup” was necessary to save the union. “One year and eight months have elapsed since the union took place,” he wrote, and “suddenly people. . . awoke to the fact that . . . they had done nothing but go around in circles till they found themselves back at their starting point. It was just as if the union never existed.”68 It was a harsh, yet fair, assessment of the UAR at that stage. To facilitate his work, ‘Amir introduced administrative changes. On 5 November, he formed an office of the vice-president, located at the presiden­ tial headquarters, which included, inter alia, a Complaints Bureau. It reportedly received 5,000 (!) complaints in the first four days of its existence.69 Colonel Amin al-Hunaydi, a member of the Syrian delegation that went to Cairo in January 1958, was appointed director of ‘Amir’s office. In addition, ‘Amir instructed the chairman of the Syrian EC to form a committee for legislative affairs that would speed up the formation of the Syrian NU. As Minister of War, ‘Amir first dealt with urgent military affairs. The discontent among Syrian officers stemmed from several sources. First, there was a genuine fear that a reduction of pay to the Egyptian level was expected. Second, the Syrian officers were disappointed with the army’s inactivity and the assigning of growing numbers of Egyptian officers to key posts in Syria. And, finally, they resented the fact that the First Army was actually controlled by the Egyptian Deputy Chief-of-Staff, General Muhsin Abu Nur, while General Jamal Faysal remained largely a figurehead.70 ‘Amir, for his part, promised the officers not to reduce their salaries and suspended further trans­ fers. 99

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres Many of the Syrian grievances were connected with the economic predica­ ment. ‘Amir met delegations from the Chambers of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture, which complained about the inability of farmers to repay agri­ cultural loans to private banks, the inadequacies of the Agrarian Labor Law, and the increase in smuggling as a result of the restrictions on trade.71 In his visit to Aleppo, for example, ‘Amir was asked to reconsider the policy of restricting imports, to simplify cotton export controls, to exempt cotton seed from the agricultural production tax so as to stimulate the cotton oil industry and many other requests relating to the economic policy. Landowners complained in particular that they had been denied the right to choose which part of their lands they would retain for their own use.72 ‘Amir tried to show a conciliatory attitude. During his tours of the country, he repeated that no reduction would take place in army pay, extolled private enterprise, and denied rumors that the UAR planned to nationalize Syrian private properties. He also assured members of Chambers of Commerce that “if unification in the economic or financial fields seems to harm any one of the two regions we do not enforce it. We [will] wait until it develops in a natural manner without causing harm to the economy of either region.”73 ‘Amir’s appeasing approach was also apparent in his speeches; “if we make mistakes, forgive us and bring us to account” was a characteristic theme, hitherto unheard in admin­ istering Syrian affairs.74 Verbal assurances, however, were hardly sufficient to appease the Syrians and regain their confidence. To show that his conciliatory attitude was not merely rhetoric, ‘Amir took several measures - mainly in the economic sphere - serving the interests of landowners and merchants. He reduced customs duties on butter, cheese, and other dairy products all of which were scarce and expen­ sive; reduced customs duties on the import of agricultural machinery and of several luxury goods; established an organization to ensure that Syria was adequately supplied with basic foods; and promised to undertake a review of the heavy customs duties on many other imports.73 ‘Amir’s major steps, however, were in the agrarian field. First, he ordered the Ministry of Agrarian Reform to request landowners to inform the ministry which areas they wished to keep in their own possession. Second, he amended the ARL so as to ensure that the government would assume all proven agri­ cultural debts owed by landlords whose land had been expropriated. The total of debts of this nature was estimated at LS 40 million. And, finally, he set up a five-man committee to supervise the just application of the ARL.76 In addi­ tion, he approved the construction of a large building for radio and television in Damascus; the doubling of the area covered by Damascus Radio by linking it to Cairo Radio; and the setting up of a new broadcast station, called alJumhur (The Public). For the first time, the radio station was allowed to carry 100

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres commercial advertising to stimulate trade in the country.77 ‘Amir’s mandate in Syria also included expediting the formation of the NU. Following the completion of the first stage - the elections of Local Executive Committees on 8 July 1959 (see above) - elections were held in November to form the committees on the district (markaz) level. These District Executive Committees were composed of the secretaries of the Local Executive Com­ mittees and of appointed members whose numbers were not to exceed half that of the elected members.78 By mid-February 1960, ‘Amir completed the compo­ sition of the Executive Committees in Syria. Yet, his main problem was that very few either understood the NU structure or had any interest in its operation. The US counselor in Damascus reported that “there is considerable confusion in nomenclature which makes the purpose and functions of all the various committees difficult for the ordinary citizen to comprehend.” Whenever the issue was raised, she concluded, people “simply shrug their shoulders and say the government will do what it wants, so what does it matter?”79 ‘Amir’s measures constituted gestures more than a dramatic change of policy. Still, they were welcomed by the upper and middle classes landowners, merchants, and officers - sectors that ostensibly suffered from the integration process. No wonder the British reported that ‘Amir seemed “to have restored the morale of the business community.”80 This exuberant mood - if it existed at all - was short-lived. In early December 1959, ‘Amir returned to Cairo for consultations while leaving behind him uncertainty. Some Syrian officials reportedly resisted his changes, and cooperation between departments was poor.81 Thus, when several Ba‘th ministers resigned in late December, the Syrian region once more descended into turmoil.

The Resignation of the Ba‘th Ministers New Year’s Eve, 1960, did not augur well for ‘Abd al-Nasir and the UAR. On 30 December, he accepted the resignation of four Ba‘th ministers: Hourani, Bitar, Hamdun, and Qannut. A few days later, another prominent Ba‘th minister, Kallas, resigned as well.82 The timing of the move was rather surprising; Heikal bitterly recounted that when Hourani and Bitar joined ‘Abd al-Nasir at his annual Port Sa‘id speech on 23 December there was no sign of the impending crisis, which erupted the following day.83 In historical terms, however, the crisis was hardly surprising. The main long-term cause of the resignation was the ministers’ sense of being outmaneuvered by ‘Abd al-Nasir. In the early, happiest days of the union, the Ba‘th sincerely believed that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s task was to provide the leader­ ship of the union while the party would provide the ideological basis. The Ba‘th 101

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres triumvirate (‘Aflaq, Bitar, and Hourani) agreed to dissolve the party in the hope that ‘Abd al-Nasir would compensate them by entrusting Syrian affairs in their hands. In reality, however, Ba‘th ideological influence had always been limited and its role in Syrian affairs was steadily diminishing. Bitar admitted that the ministers resigned because they were excluded from the decision making process, whereas real powers were given to Sarraj, the Syrian Interior Minister.84 During the 1963 Unity talks, ‘Aflaq claimed that the Ba‘th ministers had intended to resign as early as December 1958, since they felt that their presence in the government was “a mere formality.”85 Iraq’s reluctance to join the UAR was a blow to the party, which was hoping to counterbalance ‘Abd al-Nasir’s powers by merger with a neighboring country. Yet its greatest setback was its devastating defeat in the July 1959 elec­ tions. “It must have been a bitter blow to the Ba ‘th leaders,” observed John Devlin, “to realize that their brave dreams of providing an ideology that would inspire the National Union and make the UAR the first element in an all-Arab political union had evaporated.”86 The only positive outcome of the elections for the Ba‘th was the rapprochement between the two factions of the party (one headed by Hourani and the other by Bitar and ‘Aflaq), who had been at loggerheads almost since the early days of the union. They decided to cooperate with Nafuri and ‘Abd al-Karim, known to be close to Ba‘th positions, in with­ standing the Nasserist challenge and achieving their goals. They agreed that if their efforts failed they would resign simultaneously.87 In spite of Ba‘th disappointment with the union, its Third National Congress (August 28-1 September 1959), held in Beirut, expressed full support for the UAR. It also approved the Syrian Regional Command decision to dissolve the Ba‘th branch although this move was not sanctioned in advance by the party’s National Command.88 Following the congress, ‘Abdallah al-Rimawi, head of the Jordanian Ba‘th branch, who had been living in Cairo since 1957, decided to leave (or was expelled from) the Ba‘th. With ‘Abd al-Nasir’s support, Rimawi would set up a rival party called “the Arab Ba‘th Revolutionary Socialist Party” challenging the legitimacy of the orthodox Ba‘th.89 Relations between ‘Abd al-Nasir and the Ba‘th ministers further deterio­ rated, when Riad Malki was dismissed for alleged partisan activities in September (see above). Moreover, an unknown “illness” brought Hourani back to his hometown, Hama. Avoiding any public appearances, he did not attend the opening of the Homs refinery and the Damascus International Fair.90 The US Consul in Aleppo, Philip Ireland, assessed that this supposed illness was a prelude to Hourani’s “enforced retirement.”91 The immediate cause of the Ba‘th ministers’ resignation was ‘Amir’s appointment in Syria. When he established a committee to investigate the in­ justices allegedly perpetrated by the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, Mustafa 102

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres Hamdun, the minister in charge, submitted his resignation. He was irritated that ‘Amir was more concerned about the landowners’ complaints against the ARL than about the fate of the peasants.92 ‘Amir, according to Heikal, advised ‘Abd al-Nasir to reject the resignation since Hamdun was considered loyal and patriotic.93 Hamdun was soon followed by ‘Abd al-Ghani al-Qannut, the Syrian Minister of Social Affairs. While both Hamdun and Qannut were invited to meet ‘Abd al-Nasir, Hourani, Bitar and Kallas resigned as well. Apparently ‘Aflaq, Secretary-General of the Ba‘th National Command, tried unsuccess­ fully to persuade certain Egyptian ministers to resign in sympathy with the Ba‘th ministers, so that the whole episode would not assume “the form of Syrians against Egyptians.“94 ‘Amir’s appointment made the Ba‘th position in Syria untenable. Hardly recovering from the devastating defeat in the NU elections, the Ba‘th felt unable to face another humiliation. Party leaders believed that to continue in office in such circumstances would completely ruin their already-damaged reputation in Syria. Moreover, ‘Amir’s measures aiming at appeasing the right-wing élite contradicted the Ba‘th socialist principles and threatened to reverse some of its achievements. In addition, there were indications that it was disappointed with ‘Abd al-Nasir’s alleged conciliatory policy toward Israel and Jordan, demanding a more “activist” policy. In particular, the Ba‘th criticized ‘Abd alNasir’s “soft” position toward Israel’s schemes to exploit the Jordan River waters in late 1959, demanding the obstruction of Israeli diversion plans, even at the price of precipitating a war. Since ‘Abd al-Nasir realized that Egypt and the Arab world were unprepared for war, he preferred to adopt a cautious policy toward Israel.93 In sum, the Ba‘th resignation should be seen as a culmination of a process of frustration and discontent stemming from what was perceived as ‘Abd al-Nasir’s anti-Ba‘th policy.96 In addition to all these factors, it seems that there was a grain of opportunism in ‘Aflaq’s thinking that led to the Ba‘th resignation: he hoped to see ‘Abd alNasir calling them back after he realized that he could not govern Syria without them. Since the “Egyptianization” of the Syrian province ran counter to his wishes, ‘Aflaq thought the Ba‘th should “now sit back and see what Nasser will do.”97 The resignation placed the Ba‘th in a complicated position; though ideo­ logically still committed to pan-Arabism, the ministers felt unable individually or collectively to remain in their posts. Thus, the Ba‘th was at pains to convey the impression that the resignation did not signify a breach with the president or the UAR. The Ba‘th Lebanese organ, al-Sahafa, stated that the resignation “does not mean that they [the ministers] have abandoned their activity in the service of the UAR, rather this may be an opportunity for them to increase this positive activity into defending the union.”98 ‘Aflaq also took this position, 103

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres claiming that the move was no more than “a warning both to the people and to the government” against the “dangers” facing the union. He declared that it was impossible “that a party like ours which has struggled for many years to achieve union should come to stab it in the back.”99 Surely, ‘Abd al-Nasir felt betrayed. More than three years later, he still used the terms “crime” and “conspiracy” to describe the episode.100However, taking into account Ba‘th unpopularity in the Syrian region, ‘Abd al-Nasir might have felt some relief. Such an appraisal would dovetail with the general feeling in Damascus and Aleppo as reported by the US Consul-General in Damascus: “no one in our acquaintance,” he concluded, “is shedding tears.”101 Indeed, apart from scattered demonstrations and clashes among students, the Syrian public received the episode calmly.102 In his public appearances, ‘Abd al-Nasir initially attempted to ignore the subject or play down its significance. To a German journalist he obliquely stated that “the resignation of some ministers is a natural matter that occurs in any country, when some ministers resign and the President accepts their resig­ nation.”103 Relations between ‘Abd al-Nasir and the Ba‘th rapidly deteriorated. No party’s branch sent congratulations to him on the occasion of the second UAR anniversary. Moreover, Hourani and ‘Abd al-Nasir did not meet during the latter’s visit to Hama in February I960.'04 This state of affairs led the president to launch a blatant attack on the Ba‘th. In his second UAR anniver­ sary speech he stated that “if any group, faction, or political party tries to deceive this nation they will not succeed because the people are fully alert. If any group among us comes forward that claims a monopoly of politics we will tell them that our basic objective is to establish a society free from political exploitation.” 105 In April 1960, ‘Abd al-Nasir banned the entry into Syria of the Lebanese Ba‘th organ al-Sahafa. Late that year, it ceased publication altogether.106 He also backed the formation of a rival Ba‘th party in May 1960, headed by a defected Jordanian leader, ‘Abdallah al-Rimawi (see above).107 The final breach came in August 1960, following the convening of the Ba‘th Fourth National Congress in Beirut. It nullified the decision of the Third Congress affirming the dissolution of the party in Syria. The statement said that the Congress “disapproves the non-revolutionary methods which were employed as justification for this decision and which came about from a dependence on promises and intentions which derived neither from a scientific study of the political and economic situation, nor from the possibilities of its development.” 108 The Ba‘th withdrawal from the government enabled ‘Abd al-Nasir to consol­ idate his hold over Syria and eased the tension there in the short run. Yet this development contributed to the fall of the UAR in the long run. Since the main 104

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres force in Syria responsible for the formation of the union was the Ba‘th and its sympathizers among army officers, its defection signified that ‘Abd al-Nasir had lost his natural allies in Syria. Moreover, having failed to persuade some leaders from the old conservative élite to fill the vacant seats, the president was compelled to rely on second-rank leaders, who did not represent any constituency among Syrian élites. Thus, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s reliance on individuals - whether army officers or politicians - who had proven their loyalty to him personally weakened his overall legitimacy in Syria. Finally free to act, ‘Abd al-Nasir was saddled with Syria all the same. “He is on his own,’’ concluded a British official, “but this of course had its dangers, with a lady of such uncertain temper.” 109

The Question of Foreign Aid Acquiring economic and financial aid from other countries formed an acute problem for the UAR government in 1959. The foreign support was needed to help overcome the effects of the drought, which harmed Syria’s economy for the second successive year. The wheat and barley crops, two of Syria’s main export products, were severely damaged causing a major grain shortage. In 1959, wheat production dwindled to 632 metric tons compared to 1,354 in 1957. Barley production in 1959 amounted to 218 metric tons compared to 721 in 1957 (see Table 4.1). Thus, the Syrian region was not only unable to fill Egypt’s grain demands, but needed to import these products to meet domestic needs. This development contributed to a serious depletion of Syria’s foreign exchange reserves as well. Gold and foreign exchange reserves in the Central Bank declined from $79 million at the end of 1956 to $46 million at the end of 1959."° Foreign financial aid was needed to launch projects that had been osten­ tatiously announced in the Syrian region. The year 1958 saw the inauguration of the ten-year development plan, the five-year industrial plan, and the fiveyear agricultural plan. In the first half of 1959, the inaugurations of the three-year plan for the development of rural areas, the five-year communica­ tion plan, and the five-year petroleum plan were announced. The cost of all these development schemes was estimated at SL 2,700-3000 million (!). It was clear to ‘Abd al-Nasir that without foreign loans (and local investment), the projects would remain only on paper."1 Acquiring financial support for Syrian projects also had psychological significance. The year 1959 was characterized by a mood of unrelieved gloom caused by an economic depression involving all sectors. The depression was especially felt in the Aleppo region, which was more dependent than the 105

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres Damascus area on seasonal rainfalls. In addition, the decline in Syria’s trade links with its traditional markets in Lebanon, Iraq and, Jordan (see tables 4.3 and 4.4), as well as the unattractive provisions for Syria of the UAR-Lebanese agreement of May 1959,'12 intensified the economic depression. Thus, the economic situation, in the words of a British official, “hardly suggested to the average Syrian that his country was benefiting materially from incorporation in the UAR.”" 3 ‘Abd al-Nasir perhaps thought that by inaugurating large economic projects like the Aswan Dam he would be able to show some progress in the Syrian region. Whereas the economy of the Syrian region had deteriorated since 1957, that of the Egyptian region had substantially improved since the Suez War. Egypt’s long-term challenge had been to attain a self-sustaining rate of economic growth sufficient to more than offset the population increase and thereby provide some opportunity for raising the level of per capita income. Meanwhile, however, it was still coping with the adverse effects of the Suez War. Still in deficit, Egypt’s balance of payments position improved in 1958/59 as a result of increased earnings from the Suez Canal operations, US sales of Public Law 480 commodities for local currency (e.g., wheat), more satisfactory cotton marketing, and the utilization of medium- and long-term credit. Gold and foreign exchange reserves amounted to $388 million at the end of 1959. Industrial development proceeded rapidly, in accordance with the five-year industrialization plan launched in July 1957. Estimated at about $870 million, the foreign exchange component of the plan was provided by the Soviet Union, East and West Germany, Japan, and Yugoslavia."4 By late 1959, when another ambitious five-year industrialization plan was announced, 35 per cent of the first plan had reportedly been completed. No wonder the US economic coun­ selor in Cairo concluded that “Egypt is ready for the take-off’ period. This state of affairs produced a “quiet confidence in basic business conditions” - a striking contrast with the prevailing mood in the Syrian region."5 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s efforts to obtain foreign aid were focused on the US. His campaign against the communists in late 1958 provided a basis for cooperation. In April 1959, US Ambassador Hare was instructed by Under-Secretary Dillon to inform ‘Abd al-Nasir that his uncompromising position on the communist issue had been welcomed by “the highest levels in the United States Government.” Hare was further authorized to promise that the Export-Import (Exim) Bank and the Development Loan Fund (DLF) “would be disposed to consider UAR loan applications on which the [State] Department would be prepared to extend appropriate support.”" 6 DLF loans were preferable since they were repayable in local currency. Still, ‘Abd al-Nasir objected to an official US endorsement of his stand against communism that would associate him with the US and prejudice his position as an “anti-imperialist” leader. He thought, 106

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres however, that the US could be very useful in providing loans that would stim­ ulate economic activity.117 Quick to take advantage of the warming UAR-US relations, ‘Abd al-Nasir sent Mustafa Amin, the editor of Akhbar al-Yawm, to the US. Meeting Under­ secretary of State Dillon on 1 May, Amin submitted for preliminary study by the DLF a list of seventeen industrial projects for the southern region. Referring to the DLF investments in both Turkey and Iran of $40 million, Dillon assured Amin that “there was no reason why the US would not seek to meet UAR needs during F[iscal] Y[ear] 60 within this general framework if the UAR submitted qualifying projects.’’118 In late May, a similar request was submitted for the northern region. It suggested a possible DLF loan for seven projects, including a port at Tartus, grain silos, and the expansion of the Damascus airport.119 The State Department sent a formal reply only in early July 1959, indicating that the DLF was prepared to consider the projects upon submission of proper applica­ tions.120 Assuming mistakenly that DLF approval was guaranteed the UAR quickly submitted another application for the Industrial Bank in each region, in the amount of $10 million, allowing the banks to assist small- and medium-size industries.121 The following six months saw frequent US-UAR contacts about the loan requests. The main difficulty was the UAR unwillingness to submit all the necessary documentation before receiving a positive reply in principle. On 24 September, the UAR Ambassador in Washington, Mustafa Kamel, handed Dillon an expanded list of twenty-eight projects, including seven for the Syrian region, and reiterated ‘Abd al-Nasir’s plea that “the UAR requests were not handled in a routine fashion.” Paving the way for Qaysuni’s meeting with Dillon scheduled to take place four days later, Kamel emphasized that the “UAR wanted to reorient its economic relations from the USSR to the US, but its needs were pressing and delays would be hard to accept.” When Kamel indi­ cated that ‘Abd al-Nasir estimated UAR needs at $400 million, Dillon pointed out that the total resources for the DLF amounted to only $550 million. He promised, however, that “the US would do whatever [is] possible.”122 Much to ‘Abd al-Nasir’s chagrin, Qaysuni returned almost empty-handed from his American tour. In his meetings with Dillon and Vance Brand, DLF Managing Director, they were able to specify a list of ten public and private projects that, subject to the submission of detailed data, might in principle meet the criteria of both the DLF and the Exim Bank. Interestingly enough, only two projects of the Syrian shopping list were included among the ten: the Industrial Bank and the electric power plant and grid. It is clear that Qaysuni made this decision without consulting Syrian officials. He was more successful, however, in his request for wheat supply to meet grain shortages in Syria; the US im­ mediately sent 75,000 tons of wheat in advance of the agreement to be shortly 107

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres signed.123 On 22 October, under Qaysuni’s instructions, Kamel added another request for $6 million worth of tallow and newsprint that would enable the UAR to free foreign exchange for purchasing television equipment from abroad.124 UAR pressure on the State Department and the DLF continued throughout the period. Meeting Deputy Under-Secretary Merchant on S November, Kamel made another urgent call for expediting the loan request. He complained that ‘Abd al-Nasir had already sent him “ 15 telegrams” in this regard, reiterating that the UAR was reluctant to present formal applications unless assured that these would not be rejected. Kamel stressed the political significance of the assistance, averring that it would turn the UAR “into a ‘showcase’ of what US aid could do for all Asian-African countries.”125 Brand’s visit to Cairo and Damascus in late November was intended to expedite the process, but his in­ sistence on the completion of all the necessary data and his willingness to concentrate on only six or seven projects in the amount of $25 million dis­ appointed the UAR. Unhappy in particular were the Syrians; they became convinced that “the Americans are not really interested in helping us.”126 Upon Brand’s return, he and Dillon agreed on the desirability of establishing a $40 million line of credit, divided between $25 million for the DLF and $15 million for the Exim Bank. Of the seven UAR projects recommended for possible financing, only one Syrian project was included: a fertilizer plant in the amount of $15 million.'27 By early December 1959, ‘Abd al-Nasir surely felt frustration at not receiving American support more rapidly. In an attempt to prove the urgency of his request, he again sent Mustafa Amin to the US. Amin told US officials that ‘Abd al-Nasir thought the US did not wish to finance industrial projects because it did not want Egypt to become an industrialized country. American officials denied the allegation, claiming that overall US assistance to the UAR since May 1959 amounted to the equivalent of $110 million. Amin complained that the wheat supply had been delayed for two months, arriving only when the crisis had subsided. Concerning US-UAR relations, he observed that there had been a “bloodless revolution” in orientation over the past year. Believing that relations had been restored to the 1955 level, Amin expressed the hope that the US would be able to assist in financing the Qattara Depression project. With regard to Syria, he emphasized the need for “doing something rapidly,” mentioning the loan for the Industrial Bank. He claimed that Egypt had trans­ ferred one-quarter of the value of US aid to Egypt to the Syrian budget. Unaware of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s difficulties in Syria, US officials claimed that the Industrial Bank had not been included among the seven priority projects because a political need had to be supported by an economic justification.128 On 16 December, ‘Abd al-Nasir asked Ambassador Hare, on his farewell call, to give “top priority” to a DLF loan for the Industrial Bank since “an early 108

A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres decisive action” would enable him to counter communist opposition in Syria.129 Since no such opposition was threatening him, it seems that ‘Abd al-Nasir well understood that only by dangling the “red menace” did he have a chance of obtaining immediate aid. US diplomats in Cairo and Damascus strongly supported the UAR request for financing a project that would have public impact in Syria; they equated the present atmosphere with December 1958, when ‘Abd al-Nasir requested an emergency wheat supply. The Cairo embassy concluded that “psychological moments do not always wait on [the] untangling of technical problems,” and that “time has come for [a] high-level decision to override obstacles.” It recommended that at least 20,000 tons of wheat be shipped immediately to meet the acute wheat shortage in Syria.130 A wheat supply o f75,000 tons indeed was sent, but it took three more months to get DLF approval for one Syrian project. Even the US desire to approve a project by 22 February 1960 - the UAR second anniversary - was not met by the DLF. Loans to the Syrian and Egyptian Industrial Banks in the amounts of $5 million and $7 million, respectively, were finally approved in March I960.131 The UAR-US contacts for financial and economic aid were significant less for their outcome than for their impact. It is clear that ‘Abd al-Nasir badly needed some external gains to offset his declining popularity in Syria. In his talks in Washington, Mustafa Amin admitted that ‘Abd al-Nasir, like previous Egyptian rulers, had to cope with internal defeats by providing external victo­ ries.132 He hoped that the US would be able to provide him the necessary funding, which would bolster his position in the Syrian region. Yet in spite of the problems there, ‘Abd al-Nasir concentrated on the Egyptian region. Indeed, most of the projects submitted to the DLF were Egyptian; even the US wheat supply was sent mainly to the Egyptian region despite the poor harvests in the Syrian region.133It is clear that UAR-US negotiations strengthened the impres­ sion, however inaccurate, among UAR officials that the US was not really interested in helping them. Ultimately, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s attempts to compensate his internal failures with an external success miserably failed: the DLF loans arrived too late and were insufficient to have any positive effect on his position in the Syrian region. During the next year ‘Abd al-Nasir would concentrate his efforts on building the Euphrates Dam. The completion of such a project would have been tanta­ mount to the Aswan Dam in terms of economic importance and national prestige. A contract for the construction of the dam was signed with West Germany in July 1961.134 This achievement, however, came too late; by then the UAR was on the verge of collapse.


6 The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere (February 1960-July 1961)

Egypt Tightens its Control The resignation of the Ba‘th ministers in December 1959 dealt a serious blow to the union. It left a political vacuum that was not easy to fill. Hourani, Bitar, Kallas, Hamdun, and Qannut were main pillars of the Ba‘th Party - the most significant force in Syria that supported the union. The Egyptian president, therefore, now confronted the task of attracting well known figures who would become the political basis of the regime, thus somewhat improve the UAR tarnished image. As an interim measure, ‘Abd al-Nasir announced several temporary appointments on 1 January 1960. Sarraj was appointed Minister of Social Affairs, in addition to being Minister of the Interior and of Awqafi; Tu'mah al-‘Awdatallah was given the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, in addition to his Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs; and ‘Amir was made responsible for Syrian economic affairs.1 Meanwhile, in attempt to broaden the social and political base of the union, ‘Abd al-Nasir and ‘Amir approached certain right-wing politicians - former People’s Party members - with a view to bringing them into the government. This ingenious move failed because they posed two conditions: a guarantee of greater political autonomy for the Syrian region and of maintaining its economic independence; second, the removal of Sarraj from his post or at least a drastic curtailment of his responsibilities.2 Traditionally representing the landed and commercial élites of Aleppo, the People’s Party leaders made logical demands from their point of view. Yet, in spite of the obvious ad­ vantages of incorporating right-wing elements into the government, ‘Abd al-Nasir felt unable to accept the conditions since Sarraj had remained his most trusted ally in the Syrian Executive Council. Moreover, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s 110

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere declared intention to create a “democratic, cooperative and socialist society” seemed to imply greater economic integration between the two regions through socialist measures. On 14 February 1960, ‘Abd al-Nasir arrived for his third visit in Syria which, lasted until 19 March.3 Significantly, no Syrian central minister accompanied the president on his visit. Marking the second anniversary of the UAR, he attempted to deal mainly with the Syrian region’s economic hardships. Yet he was much disturbed by his inability to find distinguished candidates for the vacant seats in the government. Finally, following intensive consultations that included ‘Asali and Quwwatli, ‘Abd al-Nasir announced on 18 March the appointment of seven new ministers to the Syrian EC.4 Four of the new ministers - Jadu ‘Izz al-Din (presidential affairs), Ahmad al-Hunaydi (agrarian reform), Akram Dayri (social affairs) and Jamal al-Sufi (supply) - were officers whose loyalty to ‘Abd al-Nasir had been proven during the union. All four had been members of the famous delegation that went to Cairo in January 1958 to demand a union with Egypt. Of the four, only Dayri was considered an outstanding leader, described as a “top-flight officer” and a “spiritual heir” to the late ‘Adnan al-Malki.5 The other new ministers - Yusuf Muzahim (Awqaf ), Thabit al-Aris (culture and national guidance) and Dr Husni al-Sawwaf (economy) - were civilians with no particular political affiliation. Of the three, only Sawwaf had some experience in UAR administration, having served in several economic posi­ tions. He was described as “one of two pillars of conservative economy and fiscal policy in Syria.”6 The appointments strengthened Sarraj’s position since three of the ministers - Dayri, ‘Izz al-Din, and Muzahim - were known as his men. The administrative changes related only to the Syrian EC; Hourani’s and Bitar’s portfolios in the central cabinet remained vacant. Yet the nature of the change confirmed the widely-held belief, aptly described by the British chargé, that “the vast majority of the ministers are little more than rubber stamps, or, at best glorified officials whose principal duty is to see to the efficient imple­ mentation of policies decided in advance over their heads.”7 The UAR government continued to suffer from instability throughout the year. In early April 1960, two leading Syrian ministers, Amin al-Nafuri and Ahmad ‘Abd al-Karim, finally joined the Ba‘th ministers and resigned from the centra] cabinet. The two had a few times expressed their desire to resign earlier that year. Suffering from declining popularity, the president had asked the two ministers to remain in their posts at least until the inauguration of the Aswan Dam, promising to tackle the problems raised by the two. ‘Abd al-Karim, according to his own account, even turned down an offer to become vicepresident. When Nafuri and ‘Abd al-Karim realized that ‘Abd al-Nasir was only trying to gain time, they finally decided to submit their resignations.8They were 111

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere followed by Bashir al- ‘Azmah on 18 August, leaving Fakhir al-Kayyali and Nur al-Din Kahala as the only two Syrians in the Central Government.9 In September 1960, another reshuffle of Syrian Central and Executive minis­ ters took place. In addition to the transfer of Kayyali to the Central Justice Ministry, three Syrians were “promoted” to the central cabinet: Thabit al-Aris (culture and national guidance), Muhammad al-‘Alim (communications), and Tu’mah al-’Awdatallah (municipal and rural affairs). All three held the same portfolios in the Syrian Executive Council. Sarraj was appointed President of the Syrian EC, in addition to his other roles (for further details, see below); and Jadu ‘Izz al-Din became Minister of Public Works.10 The frequent political changes in the Syrian region stood in sharp contrast to the political stability of the Egyptian region. This instability stemmed from a need to replace ministers who were dismissed or resigned on their own, and an Egyptian desire to ensure close supervision of the Syrian region. The frequent changes highlighted that Syria resembled a colony, controlled from Cairo (by ‘Abd al-Nasir) and Damascus (by both ‘Amir and Sarraj). Moreover, all segments of the élite involved in the political system since the French mandate (and in certain cases even earlier) had been completely cut off. Even the Ba‘th Party, a relative newcomer to the political system, was shunted aside. This inevitably fostered a climate harmful to the economy; Syrian entrepreneurs felt insecure investing their money either in private or public projects. Egypt’s control over the political system was extended to the Syrian civil service. Of the civil departments only the diplomatic service had been fully integrated, leading to the purge of many Syrian diplomats and turning Damascus into a provincial city with negligible foreign representation." The inflow of Egyptian officials into the Syrian civil administration was relatively modest in numbers but substantial in influence. Except for the Interior Ministry, which was tightly controlled by Sarraj, Egyptians made inroads into all other ministries. There are no conclusive data on the number of Egyptians in the Syrian civil service, but at least a few hundred of Egyptian experts and bureau­ crats reportedly served in Syria. Well-informed Canadian sources claimed that 150 Egyptians served in the Education Ministry; 150 in the Agriculture Ministry; 130 in the Public Works Ministry; and that the Homs Refinery was completely staffed by Egyptians.12 The American consul-general in Damascus reported that between March-August 1960 the following Egyptian officials came to work in Syria: 325 teachers, 29 doctors, 35 judges, and 150 engineers. More important, he repotted that every Syrian ministry included a top Egyptian official who ran the ministry’s affairs.13 These uncertain numbers indicate the extent of Egyptian involvement in Syrian civil administration. Syrian resentment was not only directed at the number of Egyptian officials serving in Syria but also at their patronizing attitude. Animosity, bittemess, and 112

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere disdain were some of the terms often used by foreign and UAR observers about Egyptian-Syrian relations. Syrian officials would also equate Egyptian rule with Ottoman, French and British colonialism.14 Some of these accounts might have been exaggerated or even fabricated; still, they clearly indicate Syrian discontent over what was regarded as Egyptian “domination” (tasallut).IS The Syrian argument against Egypt’s growing involvement was rather simplistic. ‘Abd al-Nasir had sent experts, teachers, and bureaucrats not only to tighten his control over Syria, but also in response to certain needs. Having experience of more than six years in power, it was not surprising that the greatest number of Egyptians could be found in the ministries of industry, agrarian reform, health and education - fields in which Syria lacked expertise. The imposition of the ARL in September 1958 and the attempt at accelerating industrial development pace in the Syrian region brought in particular many Egyptian experts whose task was to study and implement these plans. They were usually paid from the Egyptian budget. The frustration at always being accused of “domination” once led ’Abd al-Nasir to remark that “we are at a loss. If we send people to Syria, it is said that they have come to rule. If we do not send them, it is said that Egypt does not care.”16 Similarly, Mahmud Riad, the president’s adviser on Syrian affairs, noted that “the term Egyptian hegemony (haymana) was often used when an Egyptian engineer or expert was found in a Syrian working place.”17 Riad himself was depicted as “high commissioner” and “viceroy.”18 No less significant was Egypt’s involvement in the First (Syrian) Army. There were no Egyptian troops in Syria except for a garrison of about 400 at Latakiyya, remnants of the unit sent in October 1957. Yet the Egyptians main­ tained their influence through the successful penetration of the Syrian army. Since the removal of ’Afif al-Bizri in March 1958, the army was headed by Jamal Faysal, an uninspiring Syrian officer. Despite his loyalty to ‘Abd alNasir, wide powers were given to his deputy, ‘Abd al-Muhsin Abu al-Nur, former Egyptian military attaché in Syria. The four important departments came under Abu Nur’s direct control. Regarded as particularly important, the depart­ ment responsible for army organization was placed under an Egyptian officer. Syrian navy and air force commands were ordered to report directly to the army headquarters in Cairo. By late 1958, the placing Egyptian officers in key positions had been completed. Although there are no official figures, American intelligence sources estimated that 600 Egyptian officers were interspersed throughout the First Army. The usual pattern was for an Egyptian to hold the post of deputy commander under the nominal supervision of a Syrian.19 The Egyptian ability to control the Syrian army was due in no small measure to the existence of four (!) intelligence and security services operating within the Syrian region: two under Sarraj’s supervision; one headed by a Syrian 113

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere Colonel; and, the Egyptian General Intelligence Agency, supervised by Abu alNur. Although the exact relationship of these four services to each other was not clear, it appears that they functioned separately, and to a large degree competitively. The existence of four services frequently aroused charges of Egyptian “spying” on Syrian officers.20 Egyptian officers, like the civil servants, were accused of behaving patronizingly toward the Syrian officers. During the tripartite unity talks of 1963, Rashad al-Kuttayni, Syrian Deputy Chief-of-Staff, who served both in Egypt and Syria during the union, complained that every one of the Egyptian officers “conducted himself in the Syrian army as another Abdul Nasser.” This, he said, “created mistrust between the Syrian and the Egyptian soldier.” Other fellow officers in the Syrian dele­ gation repeated the same argument.21 In addition to the transfer of Egyptian officers to Syria, many Syrian officers were displaced. Officers considered to be politically unreliable (pro-Ba‘th, for example) were either assigned to the Second (Egyptian) Army or dismissed. Seale claims that “about a thousand Syrian officers were posted to Egypt, many against their will, and a further thousand Syrian cadets passed out of Egyptian military schools.”22 Although life in Cairo, he remarks, “was not wholly disagreeable,” still the Syrian officers there felt a growing disgruntlement. The story of a young officer named Hafiz al-Asad was typical. Suspected of being a Ba‘th member, he was transferred to Egypt with his MiG-19 squadron in late 1959. Disillusioned with the union and with the Ba‘th leadership, he soon estab­ lished with four ‘Alawi and Isma‘ili comrades a secret organization called the Military Committee (al-lajna al- ‘askariyya).23 In 1966, this group would begin to play a leading role in Syria’s politics and Asad himself would become president in September 1970. The policy of exchanging officers between the two regions proved effective in the short run. In March 1961, ‘Abd al-Nasir told the American ambassador that communist and Ba‘th opposition was “manage­ able” because he had succeeded in “destroying the political character of the Army through transfers and retirements and the stationing of Egyptian officers in the Northern Region.”24 The increasing Egyptian involvement in Syrian affairs and the curbing of political liberties alienated older politicians, as well as Ba‘th leaders who had constituted one of the pillars of the union. In January 1961, several Lebanese newspapers reported that a mixture of left- and right-wing leaders - notably Hourani, ‘Asali, ‘Azm, Rushdi al-Kikhya, and Nazim al-Qudsi - submitted a petition to ‘Abd al-Nasir demanding the restoration of Syria’s democratic polit­ ical system. “When the Syrian people expressed its agreement to the union with Egypt,” the petition stated, “it did not contemplate that such a union would lead to the denying of the people’s liberties, humiliating their dignity, damaging their economy and imposing a police state that undermines the very founda­ 114

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere tions of democracy.”23Although4Abd al-Nasir denied receiving such a petition, there is little doubt that these grievances indeed reflected the general mood in Syria.

The Formation of the National Union One of ‘Amir’s tasks in Syria was to expedite the formation of the NU. Although the Egyptian branch was finally completed in December 1959, the Syrian branch was still under formation. With the completion of the second stage - the setting up of Executive Committees on the district (markaz) level in late November 1959 - ‘Amir appointed on 30 December a ministerial com­ mittee, headed by Sarraj, to assist him in organizing the NU. Next, on 12 January 1960, he appointed Sarraj Secretary-General of the Syrian NU branch. By 14 February the process was completed, with the publication of the names of the elected and appointed members of the Executive Committees on the govemorate/provincial (muhafaza/mudiriyya) level.26 Once the NU Executive Committees in both regions were set up, prepara­ tions began for establishing the regional and national institutions. On 14 May, the institutional structure of the UAR was published (see Figure 6.1). On the national level, three institutions were envisaged: the General Congress (alm u’tamar al-'amm), the General Committee (al-lajna al-'amma) and a Supreme Executive Committee (al-lajna al-tanfiziyya al- ‘ulya). Similar insti­ tutions were to be established on the regional level.27 Composed of 1,850 members, the UAR General Congress was to meet annu­ ally to prepare the policy and programs of the NU and to make decisions and recommendations about the proposals presented to it. Elected officials from lower levels, as well as ministers and their deputies, were to automatically participate. The rest were to be appointed by the president. The General Committee was composed of 250 members and due to meet every four months. The committee’s task was “to prepare the necessary organizations for the imple­ mentation of the programs and decisions of the General Congress.” Membership was reserved for the three highest officials of govemorate and provincial bureaus upward; the rest were to be appointed by the president. Finally, the Supreme Executive Committee was the NU highest executive authority. Composed of the president and 18 appointed members (ministers), its task was to “execute the policy, programs and recommendations prepared by the General Congress and the decisions taken by the General Committee.” All these institutions were to be composed of two elements: elected members of the NU; and members appointed from “organizations, trade unions, federa­ tions, establishments and ministries.”28 115

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere Meanwhile, on 24 May ‘Abd al-Nasir issued the Press Organization Law, which transferred Egyptian (but not Syrian) publishing houses - Dar al-Ahram, Dar al-Akhbar, Dar al-Hilal, and Dar Ruz al-Yusuf - from private ownership to NU control. The law also stipulated that all newspapers and journalists must obtain licenses from the NU to continue publication or employment in the press.29 The main goals of the law were to ensure full government control over the media, and to put some substance into the NU. Interestingly enough, UAR newspapers supported the measures; in a series of articles in al-A hram , Heikal emphasized that press “reorganization” - not “nationalization” - was intended to prevent private capital from controlling the people; and that transferring press ownership to the NU meant, in fact, transferring ownership to the people. In private, however, he admitted that he had been unaware of the move, which he thought was a “mistake.”30Even the outspoken journalist Ihsan ‘Abd al-Qudus, editor of R uz al-Yusuf, defended the law.31 Only a few journalists publicly expressed discontent. Notable among these were the brothers Mustafa and ‘Ali Amin, owners and editors of al-A khbar, the second largest newspaper after alA hram . They were replaced by Kamal R ifat, a former minister of labor. Mustafa Amin, in particular, lost his unique position as ‘Abd al-Nasir’s confi­ dant and special envoy.32 By 12 June 1960, all elected and appointed members of the various NU insti­ tutions were announced.33 Of the eighteen members of the Supreme Executive Committee, eleven were Egyptian and seven Syrians. All the appointees were

The President The Supreme Executive Committee (18 Members) Committee for the General Congress (250 Members) UAR General Congress (1,850 Members) Region/lnstitution

Southern Region

Northern Region

Executive Council

16 Members

9 Members

General Committee

450 members

220 Members

General Congress

4,000 Members

1,400 Members

Source: Radio Cairo, 14 May 1960 {BBC, No. 335,17 May 1960, p. 8); Al-Ahram, 16 June 1960; USNA, RG 59, Allen (Cairo) to Department of State, Dispatch 917,16 June 1960, 786B.00/6-1660.

Figure 6.1


The institutional structure of the National Union

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere ministers except for Anwar al-Sadat, a former Speaker of Parliament. In addition to ‘Abd al-Nasir, six Egyptian ministers were former Free Officers (Baghdadi, ‘Amir, Sadat, Muhi al-Din, Shaft1, and Husayn), a fact that attested to the solidarity and preeminence of the original revolutionary group. O f the six Syrian ministers, four were ex-officers (Sarraj, ‘Awdatallah, Sufi, and Hunaydi). The fact that the same ministers served in the government and in the Supreme Executive Committee assured ‘Abd al-Nasir full control of the NU. This led the American counselor in Cairo to conclude that “at this moment it [the NU] seems designed to strengthen rather than diminish the regime’s control over each and every citizen.”34Evidently, the unimaginative composition of the Supreme Executive Committee greatly disappointed the old-guard politicians who hoped to return to politics through the NU institutions. On 20-24 June 1960, two regional congresses were convened simultane­ ously in Cairo and Damascus. Most of the speeches made by the ministers of both regions focused on economic problems.33 At the end of the sessions, the Egyptian congress adopted 178 recommendations and resolutions out of 250 proposed; the Syrian congress adopted no less than 507 of over 800. Although most of the decisions were in support of the government’s policy, some had critical implications.36 As soon as ‘Abd al-Nasir returned from his visits to Greece and Yugoslavia, he promised that the government would immediately “begin studying the [NU] decisions in order to implement them.”37 The successful completion of the regional congresses paved the way for the convening of the UAR General Congress. Held at Cairo University on 9-16 July, the total membership of the congress reached 2,053, of which 1,329 were Egyptian and 670 Syrian, 1,250 elected and 749 appointed (which means that the actual number exceeded the planned number).38 In his opening address, ‘Abd al-Nasir highlighted the occurrence of three simultaneous revolutions on the national (watani), Arab (qawmi), and social levels. After a particularly long speech reviewing international and national achievements, ‘Abd al-Nasir concluded with an emotional tone: Brother compatriots, I have long awaited this day. I have worked with all my efforts and energy for the sacred march [al-zahfal-muqaddas ] to start. As a citizen and member of this Arab nation, I put into this great experiment, which has been started by the Arab nation, all my faith, all my efforts and all my blood if need be (applause). I am confident that I am not alone in this course, nor will you be alone with me. We shall be a whole people and nation (applause), upholding the will of God to preserve the dignity of man. Peace be with you (applause).39

During the Congress, twenty-one committees were set up to discuss various foreign and domestic affairs. In an apparent attempt to show his serious attitude 117

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere toward the proceedings, ‘Abd al-Nasir was widely reported to have visited the committees during their discussions.40 There are no reports on the nature of the encounters between Egyptians and Syrians during the prolonged talks. We might, however, get an inkling from the British chargé in Cairo, who quoted Heikal sardonically remarking that “you could have no idea how exhausting it was to argue all day with Syrians.”41 At the closing session of the congress, SOI resolutions were read out and unanimously passed. Although in the committees delegates criticized the government, the resolutions were along the lines of the decisions recommended by the regional congresses and adhering to the govern­ ment’s foreign and domestic policies. The British chargé wryly commented that these “could easily have been drafted before the Congress began.”42 The ostentatious convening of the NU General Congress was a deliberate move to bolster ‘Abd al-Nasir’s receding prestige in the UAR. Yet the real test was whether the NU could indeed become, in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s words, a genuine democratic institution realizing the aspirations of the people and accelerating the development of the UAR. If the NU “could be coaxed into flourishing as its authors intend,” wrote the British chargé in Damascus, “the face of the UAR will indeed be changed.”43 The face of the UAR, however, did not change; the following months saw ministers announcing the execution of various resolutions adopted at the General Congress. In other words, NU members found themselves acting as a rubber stamp for the government’s policies. Moreover, the much-desired linkage between the common citizen and NU officials through the pyramidal structure did not materialize. Influential Egyptian journalists such as Ihsan ‘Abd al-Qudus and Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, as well as foreign observers, were highly critical of the NU.44 The US counselor in Cairo concluded, for example, that “however sincere the regime may be in its prospects of seeking to start up its own brand of genuine democracy, no real transfer of political power from the regime to the people took place.”45 The General and Regional Congresses did not convene again until the collapse of the union. Although the NU committees on the village, district, and govemorate levels continued their activity, the results were disappointing.46 It was hardly surprising that after a full day at the office, or in the fields, the average NU member did not have much time or energy for evening NU meet­ ings, especially if they consisted of little more than a reading of the latest government tract. The following description by a NU committee member illus­ trates the widespread disillusionment: Why should I spend hours and hours in these meetings when I know nothing is going to result from them. First of all we don’t have any money to spend, secondly each member tries to think of projects that do not involve any effort on his own


The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere part, thirdly there is no one in these committees with the energy and time to push the committee’s recommendations at a higher level. I would be spending my time more profitably teaching my little boy arithmetic problems - or playing billiards.47

In practice, the NU as an “Athenian-type democracy” failed completely. It never became more than an instrument for propaganda and for imposing the government’s policies. Ardent supporters of the NU soon realized that their ability to influence the decision-making process was limited at best. The dis­ illusionment was particularly great in Syria, where political parties had still flourished before the union. Even ‘Abd al-Nasir later admitted that it was a mistake to disband all parties and rely on the NU as a link between government and people.48

Attempts at Creating a UAR National Identity Building a political community based on a shared UAR identity was necessary for acquiring wide legitimacy, enabling the UAR to project itself as the vanguard of the pan-Arab movement. This task was particularly difficult in Egypt because its identity - in contrast to Syria’s - was deeply rooted, a result of well-defined borders and age-old Pharaonic heritage. Already in the pre­ union period, the Egyptian regime attempted by use of the media and revised textbooks to strengthen Egypt’s Arab identity.49 Although the intellectuals generally failed to show enthusiasm for the Arab cause, a lively discussion of pan-Arab ideas took place in the weeklies Ruz al-Yusuf and Sabah al-Khair, and the journal al-Hilal. Young Egyptian intellectuals, such as Ikhsan ‘Abd alQudus, Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, Fathi Ghanim, and Salah ‘Abd al-Subbur, took part in these discussions. The fact that the well-known Arab thinker Sati‘ alHusri headed the cultural department of the Arab League in Cairo since 1947, contributed to the spread of pan-Arab ideas in Egypt. In 1958, he was replaced by the Egyptian historian, Shafiq Ghurbal, who acted to promote the Arab identity as well.50 With the formation of the UAR, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s regime, according to Anthony Smith’s analysis, had to invent common myths of descent, shared historical memories, a common culture, and an association with a recognized territory as means of creating a new identity.51 In other words, ‘Abd al-Nasir was faced not only with the task of building state institutions, but also with the need to “build” the UAR nation. In a sense, the fact that Egypt and Syria were part of the larger Arab nation, whose existence had already been established by Arab intellectuals such as Husri and ‘Aflaq, eased the task of “building” the 119

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere UAR nation. However, in contrast to the intellectuals who dealt merely with theoretical issues, ‘Abd al-Nasir was confronted with the reality that the UAR was composed of two different peoples, in which one party - the Egyptians were still strongly attached to their identity while feeling superior of their Arab neighbors. In an attempt to create a new UAR identity, certain symbols were adopted whereas others were eliminated. Thus, for example, a new flag was announced in April 1958; the date of the plebiscite approving the UAR (22 February) became a national holiday; Syria’s Independence Day (17 April) was abolished; all stamps bore the name of the UAR from February 1960; and a new national anthem was introduced in May 1960. Moreover, in June 1958 a Nationality Law was enacted which established that Egyptians and Syrians were Arab citizens. Important as they were, these acts were hardly sufficient for creating a new identity; what was needed was an organized campaign by the regime. Although, so far as this author is aware, no plan was formulated for that purpose, certain steps were indeed taken, especially during 1960, to solidify the UAR identity. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches constituted a major vehicle for building the new Arab identity. In his speeches, he made use of history to the point of rewriting it, investing the UAR with a sense of historical inevitability. Pan-Arabism was portrayed as an age-old ideology and the UAR as an extension of other Arab empires; ‘Abd al-Nasir himself was equated with Salah al-Din, who triumphed over the Crusaders, and Khalid bin Walid, a well-known Arab leader in the early days of Islam.52 Some of these elements appeared, for example, in ‘Abd alNasir’s speech of 20 March 1958, upon his triumphant return from Syria. It is worth fully quoting him; Past history [he said] provided a moral for the present. It also provided a moral for the future. There is a clear phenomenon that anyone who reads history or knows the history of his country can observe. It was obvious that this Arab region was encountering defeat when it was divided in itself. . . Unity was the shield which crushed the waves of invaders . . . When the Arab states were united, the Crusader waves could not in any way subjugate them. These Crusades were in fact imperialists. . . seeking domination and control. The Arabs have realized this - the Arabs who lived under the shadow of the idea of Arab nationalism - moved to fight. In this they were fighting for one idea - the idea of Arab nationalism. At the beginning the Crusaders managed to occupy Palestine and Jerusalem, and they managed to divide the Arab nation in Egypt from the Arab nation in the Arab East . . . The crusaders moved from Palestine to invade Egypt. They managed to reach the gates of Cairo. At this time the Egyptian armies were fighting alone. Something had to be done so that the Arab nation and the Arab homeland might be saved from the imperialist invasion . . . The Arab nation had to unite again in order to win. Brethren, solidarity and union between Egypt and


The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere Syria were the only way for the destruction of the crusaders and for the deliver­ ance of Arab nationalism. Nur al-Din Mahmud, the Syrian Sultan at the time, sent his armies to Egypt to help it repelling the invading Crusaders. The Syrian and Egyptian armies which then united were able to defeat the Crusaders and force them to retreat. . . This is our ancient history.”

With a large part of the population still illiterate, radio and television were crucial instruments in enhancing Arab identity. Therefore, the National Union, which was partially responsible for “national guidance,” distributed radio sets in rural areas at reduced prices and increased the number of guidance films, ensuring that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches and other official broadcasts would be disseminated to remote areas of the UAR.54 Radio broadcasts included not only speeches and propaganda, but also a variety of songs, plays and poetry which helped popularize the pan-Arab message.55 History, real or imagined, constituted a major component of the new identity in other ways. First, the cultural department at the ministry of national guidance was responsible for publishing many short, usually easy-to-read, doctrinal books. The most popular series were Ikhtama Laka (“We Have Selected for You”), Iqra’ (“Read!”), Kutub Qawmiyya (“National Books”), and Kutub Siyasiyya (“Political Books”). Published in a pocket format, the price of these books was exceptionally low as the ministry subsidized their cost. Except for the Ikhtama Laka series, which published more scientific studies with culturaleducational orientation since 1957, the other series largely promoted the regime’s official ideology. During the years 1958-61 many of these books were written by “court ideologues” with the aim of strengthening the Arab identity of the UAR, building its national myths, and promoting ‘Abd al-Nasir’s stature.56 At the same time, the cultural department of the army was in charge of disseminating information about the union to soldiers and officers.57 With the success of these books, private publishers followed the regime’s model. The series Kutub lil-‘Arab (“Books for the Arabs”) and M a'a al-'Arab (“With the Arabs”) cultivated Arab consciousness as well by providing semi-academic books on the historical and cultural roots of Arab nationalism.58 Second, the central ministry of education aimed at emphasizing the Arab character in school textbooks while downplaying the local national narrative. Hence, the textbooks and other mass communications transformed the image of the fathers of modem Egypt (e.g., Muhammad ‘Ali, Ahmad ‘Urabi, and Mustafa Kamil), depicting them as pan-Arabs. At the same time, prominent Egyptian symbols such as Sa‘d Zaghlul and the 1919 rebellion were relegated to the sidelines.59 Salah al-Din al-Bitar, the Central Minister of Culture and Guidance since October 1958, clearly indicated that he aspired to “manu­ facture” a cultural union that would serve as the main basis for the creation of 121

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere a comprehensive Arab union. In his opinion, it was not enough to unite school programs without unifying school textbooks, which were different in their content and form in both regions. He thought it was necessary also to revive the Arab heritage and to reassess past events and personalities in light of the new Arab reality. A unified culture, Bitar concluded, would enable the UAR to raise a new generation believing in Arab unity and working for its realization.60Bitar, however, resigned a few months later, in late December 1959. His post was filled only in September 1960 by an uninspiring Syrian, Thabit al-Aris. Earlier, in July 1960, the NU explicitly called “to rewrite the history of the Arab nation in such a way as to display conspicuously the present and future civilising role of the Arab nation, the various great deeds achieved by the Arabs and their heroic struggle against imperialism.”61 In addition to books and school textbooks, increasing control of the printed media by the government was intended not only to ensure political control but also to assure the dissemination of the Arab “message,” especially in the northern region. In 1958, several Syrians newspapers were “encouraged” to close down and a new organ called al-Wahda (“the Union”) was licensed. The newspaper did not survive the union. In the southern region, on the other hand, Egyptian newspapers were not closed down, but the Press Organization Law of May 1960 guaranteed the government a greater access to, and control of, the printed media. Music and films were used as other agents of cultural transformation. Although it is impossible to measure the degree of state intervention, it can be reasonably assumed that the ministry of national guidance encouraged emphasis on Arab themes in these fields as well. Thus, a well-known song called “From al-Moski to al-Hamidiyya Market,” composed by Farid al-Atrash, became an unofficial hymn of the union in both regions.62 Another example is the famous dictum taken from a poem by Sulayman ‘Isa’: “From the surging [Indian] ocean to the raving [Arab] Gulf, At Your Service, ‘Abd al-Nasir.”63 The regime also attempted to mobilize the intellectuals, encouraging studies that dealt with pan-Arabism and Arab society.64 Moreover, in February 1960 universities were instructed to hold a compulsory course on Arab society. In fact, the regime partially succeeded in enlisting some leading intellectuals to his pan-Arab campaign. One must emphasize in particular the role played by ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Rafa‘i, the famous historian of the Egyptian national move­ ment, who published pan-Arab articles that appeared in the respected journal of al-Hilal. On the occasion of the first anniversary, for example, he hailed the UAR as “a natural union,” a “most important event in the modem era,” and a “turning point in the history of the Arab nation.”65 Al-Hilal also published the text of a lecture by Taha Husayn, the notorious Egyptian writer, who had been known for stressing Egypt’s own identity and its Western-Mediterranean orien­ 122

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere tation. At the fourth congress of the Arab Writers, held in Cairo in January 1959, he lectured on “Our Arab Nationalism” ( Q aw m iyatuna al- ‘A ra b iyya ). Husayn asserted that Arab nationalism had already appeared with the rise of Islam and it included the ancient Egyptian culture, as well as other foreign cultures, such as the Persian, Indian and Greek.66 In spite of all these efforts, the regime’s attempts to mobilize the intellectuals to its pan-Arab cause met with difficulties. Undoubtedly, the failure to harness this group made it easier for the separate Egyptian and Syrian identities to survive.67 Yet a different response by the intellectuals would not have neces­ sarily succeeded to eradicate these identities, especially the Egyptian one. The Egyptian identity was never seriously diminished; even during the union, a brief look at Egyptian newspapers will show that the inhabitants were usually pre­ occupied with Egyptian rather than UAR affairs.6®The terms “southern” and “northern” regions never really replaced the terms “Egypt” and “Syria.” Moreover, Egyptian holidays, in contrast to Syrian ones, were not abolished; the celebrations of Egypt’s Revolution Day (23 July) and the Port Sa‘id Day (23 December), which included also major speeches by the president, were no less impressive than the celebrations of the UAR anniversary (22 February).69 The memoirs of Tharwat ‘Ukasha, the Minister of National Guidance in the southern region, clearly reveals the extent to which the ministry was engaged in preserving - perhaps even strengthening - Egyptian identity during the union. ‘Ukasha was involved in many activities that were solely associated with the Egyptian personality, such as the opening of Egyptian museums and the opera. In 1960, when the UAR was suffering from serious political and economic problems, a major cultural event had been the sending of an Egyptian exhibition, entitled “5,000 years to the Egyptian artf’ to European capitals. By displaying archeological treasures from the Pharaonic era, the exhibition was instrumental in further boasting Egypt’s identity. Later, when ‘Ukasha was nominated Central Minister for National Guidance in August 1961, he came to Syria for the first time in September 1961! Unluckily, he was caught there during the military coup, but managed to escape to Cairo.70 In addition to all these explanations, it should be emphasized in all fairness that the UAR duration - only three years and a half - was probably too brief a period for a new identity to develop.

The Formation of the National Assembly With the establishment of the UAR, the 350-member Egyptian National Assembly (m ajlis al-um m a ), elected in 1957, and the last Syrian Chamber of Deputies (m ajlis al-n u w w ab), elected in 1954 and consisting of 142 members,


The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere were dissolved. Since then, all legislative power was in the hands of the president. Although the UAR provisional constitution of March 1958 determined that legislative power would be vested in a National Assembly (NA), this power was in fact to be shared between the president and the NA. The number of its members and their choice were to be determined by the president. However, at least half were to be members of the former Syrian and Egyptian parliaments. It was further stipulated that the president would convoke and adjourn the NA, and had the right to dissolve it. Although no law could be enacted unless approved by the Assembly, the president had the right to propose, reject, or promulgate laws. A bill passed by the NA became law if not rejected by the president within thirty days; yet a bill rejected and referred back to the NA but passed a second time by a two-thirds majority became a law. The budget had to be submitted to the NA for examination and approval, but amendments could not be made without government approval. In theory, therefore, the constitu­ tion promised that the NA would check some of the president’s prerogatives.71 The delay in the formation of the NA was caused by the delay in the organ­ ization of the NU, from whose members the NA was to be chosen. As a result, the formation of the NA had been postponed several times. ‘Abd al-Nasir was particularly disappointed that he was unable to announce its formation during his visit to Syria for the second UAR anniversary. He did, however, make a statement to the effect that a unified UAR parliament would be established instead of separate Egyptian and Syrian parliaments as had been contemplated earlier.72 Only in May 1960, when he felt confident enough that the NU struc­ ture was near completion, did ‘Abd al-Nasir promise that the NA would be formed before Egypt’s Revolution Day on 23 July I960.73 On 18 July 1960, only three days before the opening meeting of the National Assembly, the names of 600 members - 400 Egyptians and 200 Syrians - were announced. Each member was to represent roughly 50,000 citizens, which meant that the Syrian region had been over-represented. Although the president selected the members, his field of choice was limited to candidates whose eligibility depended on the popular vote of July 1959. All members of the former Egyptian and Syrian parliaments who had succeeded in the NU elections and taken part in the recent regional and general congresses were chosen. In actual terms, more than two-thirds of former Egyptian-parliament members and only less than one-third of former Syrian-parliament members were chosen for the NA.74 To ensure that appointed Syrian members would conform to the government’s policy, ‘Amir held secret contacts with several right-wing Syrian leaders such as Rushdi al-Kikhya and Sabri al-‘Asali. Since they demanded introducing changes in the government, as well as the curbing of Sarraj’s influ­ ence, their terms were rejected outright. As a result, only 46 former Syrian


The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere parliament members were chosen for the NA. The rest were of the NU provin­ cial committees.75 On 20 July 1960, ‘Abd al-Nasir introduced the Five-Year Plan for the Development of the UAR as well as several other decrees in the economic field. The timing of the announcement was not incidental, providing a congenial atmosphere for the inauguration of the NA, which took place the next day at the old building of the Egyptian parliament. This event coincided with the in­ auguration of UAR television, financed and built by the US. The president’s opening speech was the first televised broadcast transmitted to the UAR. As expected, ‘Abd al-Nasir praised the establishment of the UAR and reviewed the main points of the Development Plan announced the day before.76 During the first session, the president of the NA and his deputies were elected. Anwar al-Sadat, a Free Officer and former deputy speaker, was elected speaker. The second inaugural session was held on 28 July, following the cele­ brations of the eighth anniversary of the Egyptian revolution. The first resolution adopted was a denunciation of the Shah of Iran’s recognition of Israel and an approval of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s decision to sever relations with Iran.77 The NA resumed its first session on 3 October and on IS November went into recess until 9 January 1961. Most of the debates were devoted to foreign affairs; only a few dealt with economic or educational problems. All 27 laws passed during the first session were initiated by the regime.78 There were rumors that the next session would be convened in Damascus, but these were denied by Sadat.79 In assessing the NA acitivity, the British chargé in Cairo concluded that it “has so far acted simply as a sounding board for Government propaganda and a rubber stamp for Government legislation. As a body it has given no sign of life.”80This assessment remained valid for the entire period of the UAR. The most significant development during the second session of the NA (9 January-2 February 1961) was the setting up of a ninety-member committee, headed by Sadat, to draft a permanent constitution. The election of the committee did not go smoothly; Syrian deputies complained that they were inadequately represented and that many of the selected members “were not of the caliber to draft a constitution.”81 Following the first meeting on 19 April, Sadat published an appeal to all UAR citizens, members of the Arab nation, and “liberated” Africans, to send suggestions for the draft constitution serving as a model for all “liberated” Arabs and Africans.82 The whole issue was further delayed and finally put off with the collapse of the UAR. The last session of the NA (11 April-23 June 1961) was mainly devoted to the approval of the UAR annual budget. In its final meeting on 22-23 June, the NA approved a law for the reorganization and modernization (some would say secularization) of al-Azhar in the face of strong religious opposition.83 The fact that the NA did not play any role in the promulgation of the July 1961 decrees


The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere (see chapter 7) only confirmed the assessment that the NA had been operating in “the dual role of rubber-stamping legislation prepared in the presidency and of cooperating with the Cairo propaganda.”84 Members of the former Syrian Chamber who managed to surmount all the administrative hurdles and become NA members were greatly disappointed that, in contrast to the provisions of the interim constitution, their ability to initiate legislation was very limited. Thus, the NA - much like the defunct NU - became no more than a tool in ‘Abd alNasir’s hands for implementing his policies under a façade of democracy.

Sarraj’s Rule Consolidated On 20 September 1960, before leaving for New York to attend the UN General Assembly, ‘Abd al-Nasir announced a reshuffle of the UAR Central Govern­ ment and the Syrian Executive Council. The main change was the appointment of Sarraj to the Presidency of the Syrian EC. At the age of thirty-five, Sarraj became the most powerful Syrian official, serving also as minister of the interior, secretary-general of the Syrian NU, head of propaganda and chairman of the Syrian economic foundation (set up in March 1960). A British official returning from a visit in Damascus described him as “the Viceroy of Syria.”83 Sarraj’s rise to this elevated position was a gradual, perhaps inevitable, process that contributed to the eventual collapse of the UAR. Sarraj was something of an enigma to Arab and foreign observers. Most, however, agreed that he was an independent (or rather a “lone w olf’), uncorrupted army officer whose cooperation with any political group was based primarily on his estimate of utility. He had participated in the 1948 Palestine War, played a role in Husni al-Za‘im’s coup of 1949, and took over the depart­ ment of personnel for Adib Shishakli in 1952. When the latter was ousted in 1954, Sarraj was temporarily sent to Paris as an assistant military attaché. In March 1955, the new Chief-of-Staff Shuqair appointed him head of military intelligence. From this sensitive position Sarraj was able during the next three years to play a crucial role in thwarting numerous conspiracies against the regime. Sarraj’s power stemmed from the fact that he did not identify with any political group but developed friendly relations with the Ba‘th party. In his capacity as Syrian minister of interior, he established for himself a strong power-base since the formation of the UAR. The arrival of Vice-President ‘Amir in Syria in October 1959 ignited a power struggle that ended with ‘Amir’s silent return to Cairo in mid-1960 and Sarraj’s appointment as presi­ dent of Syrian EC. It is probable that he saw ‘Abd al-Nasir as a role model, hoping to secure for himself a similar position in Syria.86 Sarraj’s appointment came at a critical moment, when external and internal


The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere forces were threatening to destroy the UAR. On the foreign front, Jordan replaced Iraq as the main Arab adversary. Already in August 1959 the Syrian-Jordanian border was closed. King Husayn feared that ‘Abd al-Nasir aimed to expand his territory by using Syria as a springboard. Egypt, for its part, was concerned about the possibility of a Jordanian military intervention in Syria or Iraq. Egypt even approached Britain and the US about forestalling such a development.87 Relations deteriorated following the assassination of Jordan’s Prime Minister Hazza‘ al-Majali, on 29 August 1960, which Jordan attributed to Egyptian machinations. A vicious propaganda war waged in SeptemberOctober reverberated more in Damascus than in Cairo; allegations on Radio Amman about Egypt’s mismanagement of Syria’s affairs had some impact in Syria. The defection of a Syrian MiG-17 pilot to Jordan on 1 October further worsened relations; it was published that the pilot asked for political asylum in order “to escape oppression and persecution that his countrymen, Syrians, suffer under Nasserist rule.”88 The UAR-Jordanian war-of-words was only the tip of the iceberg; there is convincing evidence that in early September King Husayn “considered military measures against Syria short of all-out war.”89 On 10 September 1960, he predicted that certain developments would take place in Syria “within the next four-five days.”90 There are some indications that Syrian officers, with Jordanian support, planned a military coup.91 Attempting to capitalize on the growing discontent in Syria, Husayn may have thought that such a coup, backed by a Jordanian military intervention, would facilitate Syria’s defection from the UAR. A prompt response by the State Department, however, discouraged the king. Husayn was notified that although the Syrian situation needed “close watching,” the “prospects of [a] popular Syrian uprising in support [of] entry [of] Jordanian troops should be heavily discounted.”92 The military relaxation notwithstanding, Egyptian-Jordanian relations further deteriorated in October 1960. On 1 October, Jordan resumed diplomatic relations with Iraq, which had been broken in July 1958. Recognizing the regime that annihilated the Hashemite throne was undoubtedly a bitter pill for Husayn to swallow, which could be compensated only by the expected blow to ‘Abd al-Nasir resulting from this move.93 Two days later, addressing the UN General Assembly, Husayn attacked the UAR for “seeking to dominate our part of the world.”94 In late October, Jordan was reportedly involved in certain sabotage activities near the Syrian border. Israeli intelligence sources also reported attempts to sabotage the Latakiyya port and the Syrian EC head­ quarters in Damascus. Moreover, on 25 October, three bombs exploded in Damascus causing minor damage; according to UAR and Lebanese reports, Syrian and Jordanian exiles in Lebanon were responsible.95 The Syrian security forces also blamed Jordan and Lebanon for an alleged attempt by Salah


The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere Shishakli (brother of the deposed Syrian dictator Adib Shishakli) and Hashim al-Barazi to plant explosives in Homs.96 Although UAR-Jordan relations considerably improved from November 1960, the latter would remain a poten­ tial source of threat to the UAR.97 The UAR-Jordanian dispute only exacerbated an already tense situation within Syria. Plagued by a drought for the third consecutive year, coupled with rising prices and various economic measures that alienated significant sectors, Syrians blamed Egypt for all their hardships. In daily contacts it was not uncommon to hear Syrians grumbling that “there has been no rain since the Egyptians came and there’ll be none till they go.”98 A British official touring Syria in mid-October was struck by the decline in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s popularity and by the growing Syrian resentment at being “run from Cairo” while Damascus was relegated to a provincial town.99 Syrian discontent, though certainly widespread, did not crystallize around a certain group and did not translate as yet into political action. The major poten­ tial source of threat was the Syrian army. Although effectively penetrated and controlled by the Egyptians, still there were many disaffected Syrian officers. Jordanian propaganda, exploiting such feelings, announced the distribution of leaflets signed by “the Military Command of the Syrian Nation” calling for a revolution against the oppressive UAR regime. Fabricated or not, these leaflets indicated that ‘Abd al-Nasir had to watch closely developments in the First Army.100 Moreover, there were several unconfirmed reports about attempted plots by Syrian officers, with the knowledge of Hourani and Bitar, which were foiled by either Lebanese or Syrian security elements.101 Taking into account Syria’s external and domestic difficulties, ‘Abd al-Nasir probably felt that a strongman was needed. Obviously, Sarraj was the ideal choice; his appointment as president of the Syrian EC made him the sole master of Syria, thus in fact terminating ‘Amir’s mission.102Sarraj’s lust for power and his ruthless use of police methods against opponents of the regime made him highly unpopular. At the same time, however, he was known to be an im­ peccable nationalist who had the ability “to get things done.”103 In a way, his unpopularity was advantageous for ‘Abd al-Nasir since it guaranteed Sarraj’s continued loyalty to him. On 14 October 1960, ‘Abd al-Nasir surprisingly came to Syria for a fiveday visit. Exactly three years earlier, when Egyptian troops landed in Latakiyya to defuse the “Syrian crisis,” they were received with great enthusiasm. Three years later ‘Abd al-Nasir was still considered a great Arab hero, but his image was considerably tainted. Having received gloomy reports from Damascus, ‘Abd al-Nasir hurried to Syria only eight days after his return from a first visit to New York. He was accompanied by an impressive delegation. ‘Abd alNasir’s speeches contained no new messages except for a direct attack on King 128

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere Husayn. The fact that no plans were introduced and no major decisions were taken indicated that ‘Abd al-Nasir considered the visit a fence-mending opera­ tion and an attempt to study the situation at close hand. In addition, he may have sought to capitalize on the favorable reports of his UN visit and to show that his interest in Syria went beyond annual Union Day celebrations.104 In his new role as president of the Syrian EC, Sarraj attempted to project himself as a supreme national leader. First, in November 1960, he reactivated the defunct Complaint Bureau established by ‘Amir a year earlier.103 Second, on 28 November, accompanied by eight Syrian ministers mostly engaged in economic affairs, he commenced a one-week tour of the three eastern provinces. Meeting with NU representatives, Sarraj asked to become acquainted with each area’s most pressing needs. The decisions taken by Sarraj were numerous but not especially innovative. More significant was that Sarraj adopted certain manners that turned him, in the words of the new American consul-general in Damascus, into a “Levantine Nasser.” In addition to full coverage of the tour by the radio and press, a long film was shown on television that displayed Sarraj as the pre-eminent leader.106 During the first half of 1961, Sarraj consolidated his control over the Syrian region. Being part of the UAR, Sarraj ostensibly had a dual role: vis-à-vis his Cairo overlord he was the dutiful caretaker; but in the Syrian region he was or rather aspired to be - the undisputed leader. He attended public ceremonies, his photographs appeared daily, and his activities were carefully recounted. Although there were pressures on ‘Abd al-Nasir to “get rid of Sarraj,” he was reluctant to do so. The British concluded that “as long as there are unpopular measures to be enforced and as long as Syria has to be thrust into an economic straight-jacket, Nasser presumably feels that he could not find a better agent to run the Syrian region on his behalf.”107 Sarraj’s dream, however, evaporated when ‘Abd al-Nasir decided in August 1961 to appoint him vice-president for internal affairs. As a result, Sarraj was to be transferred from Damascus to Cairo. This appointment heralded his downfall and precipitated the break-up of the UAR as well.


7 The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere (February 1960-July 1961)

Attempts to Alleviate the Economic Predicament On 23 December 1959, in his annual Port Sa‘id speech, ‘Abd al-Nasir announced the intention of doubling the national income within the next ten years. He promised that a new Five-Year Plan would be inaugurated in July 1960, primarily based on national investment rather than on private capital.1 The plan aimed at raising the individual’s standard of living; an average American citizen earned $1,100 per annum, ‘Abd al-Nasir noted, whereas the average Egyptian citizen’s income did not exceed $150. In his typical manner of defining goals in terms of battles, he described the current phase as “the battle of social revolution.”2 The speech heralded a new phase in Egypt’s economic policy. It signaled a slow transition from the so-called “guided capitalism” policy, which had characterized the regime since 1957, to an increasingly socialist economic policy. On 3 February 1960, a newspaper article signed by ‘Abd al-Nasir - a rare event - appeared in al-Ahram, which expounded on the forthcoming economic changes. The UAR president stated that unless ways and means could be found to build the “democratic, socialist, and cooperative society,” it would remain a mere slogan. He asserted that the UAR economic policy was “a middle one between communism and capitalism,” similar to “positive neutralism,” which was “a middle course between East and West.” He further emphasized that he did not aim to imitate anyone but to develop an independent social system commensurate with Egypt’s independent personality.3 On 11 February 1960, the government took the first step in this direction when a presidential decree announced the nationalization of the Misr Bank. Ownership was transferred to the state and shares were converted into 130

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere debenture bonds, on the basis of the stock-exchange closing rates on the same day, redeemable over twelve years with 5 per cent interest.4 In nationalizing Egypt’s largest commercial bank, the government gained direct control of a considerable part of the corporate industry, thus facilitating the implementation of its impending social and economic measures.3 In an attempt to justify the move, Central Economy Minister Qaysuni asserted that private ownership of the bank was hardly consistent with its role as the state bank. He reassured the public, however, that the government would not touch their bank deposits. Still, the decree came as a psychological blow to the private business community, adversely affecting the stock market. People did not know, in the words of the new American ambassador in Cairo, “where or in what form lightning will strike next.”6 The Syrian economic élite watched with great anxiety Egypt’s encroach­ ments on private capital and its centralization measures. Influential Syrian economic circles wanted to maintain their essentially liberal economy, with government intervention only in specific areas. Yet ‘Abd al-Nasir’s declared aim of doubling the national income within the next ten years aroused fears that similar reforms would be applied to the Syrian region. Already on 23 November 1959, al-Ayyam published a claim that ‘Amir - then in charge of Syrian affairs - was studying a Cairo report with an eye to doubling Syrian national income within ten years in accordance with the ten-year development plan.7 Syrian fears proved justified in the long run; for the time being, however, ‘Abd al-Nasir decided not to act in Syria. He probably thought that in light of the forthcoming celebrations of the second UAR anniversary and the economic predicament, the time was not propitious for drastic economic measures in Syria. During his prolonged visit in Syria (14 February-19 March 1960), it seems that ‘Abd al-Nasir deliberately tried to avoid economic issues. Except for the oft-repeated desire to establish the “democratic, socialist, and cooperative society,” his numerous speeches were devoted to foreign issues and the forth­ coming establishment of the NU. Yet before his departure, he made a spate of declarations about new projects and allocations of funds. Many dealt with proposals for cheap houses, hospitals, dispensaries, and sports grounds. For these schemes a special budget of LS 15 million was approved, the funds for which were to be partially provided from a loan of LE 1.5 million to Syria. The Syrian EC also decided to hasten the work of several irrigation projects, estab­ lish a number of new industries, provide electricity to rural communities, establish a university at Aleppo, extend the Aleppo airport, and implement the second stage of the Aleppo water scheme. The effect of all these decisions was to create the impression of “all-embracing interest on the part of the President in the welfare of the Syrian people.”8 Yet the most important economic decision taken during ‘Abd al-Nasir’s visit 131

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere was the setting up of the Economic Development Organization (EDO) on 16 March. This decree revealed that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s long-term plans for the Syrian region were not essentially different from those for the Egyptian region. A similar organization had been set up in Egypt in January 1957. The government transferred nearly all the industrial and commercial property possessed by the public to the EDO. After only four years, the Egyptian organization became “the most important government agency for promoting industrial expansion.”9 According to Qaysuni, the Egyptian EDO “had helped private capital enter new economic fields, and had undertaken the establishment of industries which private capital alone could not have done.”10In the light of the EDO success in Egypt, it was decided to set up a similar organization in Syria. The Syrian EDO was empowered to establish on its own account, or in cooperation with private capital, companies in the fields of commerce, indus­ try, and agriculture. Attached to the presidency, the directors of the EDO were to be appointed in companies in which it participated to the extent of 25 per cent of the shares. The organization commenced its activities with the establishment of three large companies: (1) the Egypt-Syria Banking Company, which the Misr Bank branches in Syria would join; (2) the Cairo-Damascus Banking Company, to which private capital and Misr Bank would contribute 75 per cent of the capital; and (3) the Company for the Construction of Public Housing, building low-rental residences for the workers." In addition, the shares of the Five-Year Plan Authority and of the Industrial Bank in the capital of certain industrial enterprises were intended to be transferred to the Syrian EDO.12 The establishment of the EDO represented a significant step in introducing policies of controlled economy to the Syrian region. It was in harmony with the aim of building a “democratic, socialist, and cooperative society,” and with Qaysuni’s philosophy of preventing concentration of economic power in private hands. Although Qaysuni promised that the EDO would engage mainly in new enterprises, Syrian businessmen regarded the EDO as a deliberate Egyptian move “to break [the] economic power of [the] Syrian ‘big five’ who control a number of industrial enterprises.”13Practically, however, the EDO had done very little by July 1961 either to advance economic development or to break the power of the economic élite.14 During the first half of 1960, the economic ministers were busy preparing the budget and the Five-Year plans intended to be published in July. Meanwhile, however, the economic situation in Syria deteriorated due to the drought, now plaguing the region for the third consecutive year. Although cotton production increased during the 1960 crop year, the grain shortage remained acute. Instead of exporting wheat and barley, Syria was compelled to import these products in order to meet local needs (see tables 4.1-4.3). There 132

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere were unconfirmed reports from Beirut of sporadic “bread riots” in Damascus.15 In addition, tobacco production, which had increased over the past several years and been primarily designated for Egypt, decreased sharply due to the drought.16This situation led the US consul-general in Damascus to observe that “the economic situation in Syria is bad, is bound to become worse and may become disastrous.” He added that since the Syrians could not blame Allah for the lack of rain, “it was necessary to blame the man next to him - in this case Nasser.” He concluded that though the union was not in imminent danger of collapse, “a Syrian economy in a desperate condition might well bring the situ­ ation to this point.”17 The economic predicament led Syrian Economy Minister Sawwaf to take measures aimed primarily at saving hard currency needed for the import of certain essential products. On 23 April 1960, he temporarily prohibited the import of luxury goods like motor vehicles, refrigerators and washing machines, and imposed a 40 per cent deposit on all other imports.18In addition, Central Economy Minister Qaysuni signed a special agreement with the US on 9 August 1960, providing for the import of 250,000 metric tons of wheat and 50,000 metric tons of flour to the Syrian region.19These measures did very little to alleviate Syrian fears; the economic élite was particularly apprehensive lest the Syrian system would become part of, or tied to, Egypt’s socialist-oriented system. In all probability, they hoped to see a free system - “like Lebanon’s” - in which foreign capital would be enticed to invest.20 Much to its chagrin, however, Syria’s economic élite saw Egyptian authorities slowly yet firmly transforming the capitalist economy into a socialist one. Several steps in this direction were taken in July 1960. First, the UAR budget for the fiscal year 1960/61 saw greater expenditure of public capital on development projects - the sum of LS 254 million compared to LS 185.5 million in 1959/60. The largest items were irrigation and reclamation projects and transportation; industrial received much less.21 Second, the modified Syrian Five-Year Plan (1960/61-64/65), promulgated simultaneously with the Egyptian plan on 20 July, relied on the expenditure of public capital more than before. The Syrian plan envisaged the expenditure of LS 2,720 million - 75 per cent to be raised from domestic sources, in equal portions from the state and private sectors, and the remaining 25 per cent from foreign aid. The largest items on the plan were again irrigation and reclamation projects (30.5 per cent) and transportation (19.7 per cent); industry, power development, and oil explo­ ration received a total of 18.7 per cent. In comparison, the largest item on Egypt’s budget and in its Five-Year Plan was industrial projects.22 Nevertheless, the Syrian proposed expenditure on development projects seemed over ambitious and it was still unclear how they would be financed. “Few in Government or private life,” concluded the American consul-general 133

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere in Damascus, “regarded [the plans] with seriousness, including. . . some of the officials who were responsible for drafting them.”23 This set of priorities stemmed from Egypt’s desire to develop itself mainly as an industrial region whereas Syria would remain basically an agricultural region. In his budget statement, Qaysuni reported that the northern economy could be considered an agricultural one since 75 per cent of the manpower was engaged in that sector and agricultural products constituted 85 per cent of the region’s exports.24 Thus, the emphasis on irrigation and transportation was intended to ensure that agricultural crops would not be subject to capricious weather conditions (as in the last three years) and that transportation costs of agricultural production would be substantially reduced. Qaysuni further stressed that the Five-Year Plan “sought to distribute income fairly, closing the gaps between the various classes of people, increasing the demand for workers, and laying the economic and social foundations of a socialist-democraticcooperative society.”25 Vice-President Baghdadi expressed a similar attitude; he warned of “stronger and more drastic measures” if private capital should deviate and “realize personal interests regardless of the serious results that may befall the country.”26 In contrast to Qaysuni and Baghdadi, ‘Abd al-Nasir displayed a more cautious attitude toward the Syrian private sector. In his address to the Congress of the National Union on 9 July 1960, he presented the Five-Year Plan as an “instrument of encouraging private capital and for guiding this capital away from exploitation and monopoly.” He emphasized that private capital “has a prominent role to play in the comprehensive plan. We will also give it all the guarantees necessary to ensure its productivity. For when private capital keeps to the right path, without showing a desire to exploit and monopolise, it is exactly like public capital - a national treasure, which we must safeguard.”27 Kamal al-Din Husayn, the Central Education Minister and Head of the Egyptian branch of the NU, tried to assuage the business élite as well. He described Egypt’s socialist orientation as “a type of socialism that protects individual ownership, upholds the freedom of individual economic enterprise and recon­ ciles public and private economic activity.”28 The Syrian private sector, however, received the Egyptian schemes with great concern and anxiety. As a result, in mid-August 1960 a group of the Syrian economic élite composed of industrialists, landowners, merchants, and bank officials met with Vice-President Kahala and all Syrian economic ministers. The delegation wanted to learn the exact role envisaged for private capital in the development plans. Consequently, it was decided to form a committee to represent the private sector in the fields of agricultural, industrial, financial, and commercial development.29 The meeting with Kahala was preceded by a letter sent in July to ‘Abd al134

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere Nasir by Fakhri al-Barudi, a Damascene landowner and former member of parliament. Barudi argued that it was a grave mistake to impose a uniform economic regime on both parts of the UAR as each had its own peculiar economic and social conditions. In his view, land reform and “the socialization of industry” were feasible in Egypt but inconceivable in Syria.30Barudi was one of the most popular politicians in Damascus, and his letter probably reflected the position of the economic élite there.31 All in all, the assurances given by Egyptian and Syrian authorities assuaged some of their fears. On 23 August, the head of the Syrian Chamber of Commerce opined that the role envisaged for the private sector in Syria’s development was “a cardinal one,” and discounted fears of state domination of economic projects or state interference in the private sector.32 While UAR authorities were attempting to allay the fears of the Syrian economic élite, they introduced socialist measures intended to secure the support of the working class. On 7 April 1959, they announced a new Unified Labor Law that gave the workers more protection and additional social bene­ fits. Among the major changes introduced were reduction of the workday from 9 to 7-8 hours; reduction of a new worker’s trial period from six to three months; and a pay increase for night shifts from 25 to 50 per cent.33 This law was implemented in the Syrian region only in June 1960. A month later, the president amended the taxation law, increasing the exemptions to people with small earnings while raising the taxes on high incomes. The level of taxation for annual incomes of LE 20,000-30,000 was fixed at 70 per cent (instead of 50 per cent) and for over LE 30,000 at 80 per cent (instead o f 60-80 per cent).34 The positive impact of the social reforms was offset by the government’s attempts to integrate the Syrian labor movement into the NU and so turn it, like the Egyptian trade union movement, into an arm of the government. Two Syrian trade union federations under leftist influence had already been abolished in 1958-1959. The third, the General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), continued to exist under strong Ba‘th influence. The UAR Labor Law deter­ mined that new elections would take place, turning the GFTU into a single regional (Syrian) federation controlled by the NU. In the next phase, the Syrian and Egyptian GFTU were to form the UAR General Federation. The law, however, included several disturbing terms: it denied the workers’ right to strike; introduced the Egyptian system of fines for a wide range of infractions, defined by employers; and determined that the government was responsible for setting minimum wages.35 The negative aspects of the law were widely criti­ cized. A meeting of more than 300 trade union leaders, held in Damascus in January 1960, called upon the government to legalize strikes, establish equality in wages, stop unwarranted dismissals, protect the union’s leaders, and raise the minimum wage by 10 per cent.36 With ‘Amir’s decision to implement the law 135

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere in June 1960, the GFTU council tendered its resignation en m asse, in early August. It sent a cable to ‘Abd al-Nasir complaining that Syrian Social Affairs Minister Dayri wanted to annihilate the GFTU. Many union leaders were reportedly arrested.37 The discontent was translated into action at least once: a strike, reportedly held in a Damascene factory in late December 1960, led to the injury of forty workers and many detainees.38 In January 1961, ‘Amir installed a new union leadership and integrated the unions more closely into the NU. Forty-two trade unions composed the new GFTU, under a new secretary-general. In the new organization, trade union leaders often found themselves preoccupied more with NU affairs than with the workers’ problems. Thus neglected by their union leaders, the workers were exposed to rising prices, mounting unemployment, a drastic decline in foreign trade, and migration of peasants from the drought-stricken countryside.39 Yet the GFTU proved too independent for Sarraj. In April 1961, he authorized the formation of a National League of Labor and Workers (a l-rabitah al-qaw m iyya lil-'a m a l w a -a l-‘um m al ), embracing all union members, and under NU control.40 The new organization was never established.

Toward an Economic Integration Egyptian assurances to Syrian businessmen concerning the role of the private sector were disingenuous. Egyptian economic authorities were convinced that Syria’s economy policy was “antiquated and unrealistic,” and that it should be adapted to the Egyptian model. A discussion between the American consulgeneral in Damascus and Hamid al-Sayegh, Egypt’s Under-Secretary of Economy, is revealing. In December 1960, Sayegh was instructed by Qaysuni to visit Syria and “find out from the streets, shops, and through common contact just what the situation is.” He discovered, as expected, that there was strong opposition against the imposition of an Egyptian-type controlled economy. Interestingly, he was “pleased” to find that the Syrian region was suffering from shortages of imported goods, assuming that it “would bring the Syrians around sooner than anything else to realize that they needed to adopt more rigid control procedures.” Voicing Qaysuni’s attitude, he thought that there was nothing in the current Syrian economy “which opens new prospects comparable with the requirements for a democratic, socialist, cooperative society.” The Syrians, he felt, should realize that “free trade days are over,” and that development programs should be financed only by a rigid system of controls, ranging through foreign exchange, import price fixing, profit fixing, and a taxation plan that would transfer wealthy families’ capital to the state.41 Syrian authorities were clearly unaware of the Egyptian designs. In late 136

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere January 1961, they still advocated economic liberalization - a position that was based, inter alia, on the conclusions of the Swedish economist Bent Hansen, who studied the UAR economic development at the government’s invitation.42 Although this élite resented its political and economic marginal­ ization within the UAR, it had been lulled into a false sense of security and was still under the illusion that no drastic economic measures were expected. Moreover, the committee that had studied private-sector participation in the development plan submitted its report to the Ministry of Planning in late 1960. The committee’s expected conclusions - that Egyptian economic measures were not applicable to the “Syrian mentality and way of life” - contradicted the Egyptian plans.43 The Syrian economic élite also resisted various Egyptian attempts to penetrate the private sector. In early 1961, the newly state-owned Misr Bank, which controlled some of Egypt’s largest industrial enterprises, tried to buy its way into the cotton-ginning industry in the Aleppo area. The leading industri­ alists, who saw this as a kind of nationalization and an end to their local economic autonomy, successfully resisted.44 Persistent rumors about currency unification and other measures intended to “put an end to activity speculators in prices of currencies” began to worry the economic élite.43 In January 1961, the flight of capital, mainly to Lebanese banks, increased and the Syrian pound was devaluated (from LS 3.7 to LS 4.1 per $). The resignation of ‘Izzat al-Tarabulsi, Governor of the Syrian Central Bank, indicated that the economy was indeed on the verge of crisis. Known as an ardent supporter of economic liberalism, Tarabulsi had been somewhat of a liability to the Egyptian authorities. The immediate cause for his resignation was his dispute with Cairo over the means to finance the development program and his desire to maintain the Syrian free exchange system. His resignation cleared the way for Egypt to introduce some long-awaited currency measures that launched a new era in Syria’s economic life.46 In an attempt to halt the flight of capital and stabilize the Syrian pound, a presidential decree, published on 4 February 1961, put an end to the freeconvertibility system of the Syrian pound. According to the new regulations, the export from Syria of local and foreign currency of sums over LS 100, as well as trade in foreign currency, was forbidden. In addition, all foreigncurrency deposits were frozen and their holders were required to declare their assets by 9 March. This currency would be bought by the Currency Office at a special rate intended to prevent losses to persons who had bought their foreign currency at higher rates. Since all foreign transactions were henceforth to be confined to the Central Bank, all private money dealers lost their jobs.47 Official UAR sources maintained that the measures were intended to build up foreign currency reserves for the import of vital consumption goods and the 137

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere execution of the Five-Year Plan. Later, this argument was reinforced by ‘Abd al-Nasir, who claimed that in February 1961 Syrian foreign exchange reserves, excluding gold reserves, amounted to no more than SL 22-23 million of which SL 20 million was in the form of foreign loans.48 Be that as it may, Egypt was compelled to take this step since it had to give up some of its own desperately needed foreign exchange reserves to maintain the convertibility of the Syrian pound. However, Egypt could no longer continue this policy since its foreign exchange holdings - exclusive of gold reserves - were down to about LE 19 million in early January 1961, “an all-time low,” according to a Canadian esti­ mate.49The Syrian Economy minister claimed that the Syrian region could have managed without the reimposition of full currency controls (which Syria had had until 1950) if it had not been for the three consecutive bad harvests.30 A few days later, new import restrictions were introduced. They allowed merchants to import only certain commodities after having renewed their import licenses. Sawwaf clarified that the granting of new licenses would be on a basis of priority for goods for the development program, according to the following: (a) goods obtainable in the Southern Region; (b) commodities obtainable by existing special arrangements between the UAR and other states (such as Cuban sugar and gas-oil from the USSR); (c) goods obtainable under long-term credits already extended; and (d) open-market purchases including considerations of both price and credit. At the same time, a price control was imposed and merchants were warned that strict measures would be taken against profiteers. The merchants were further instructed to sell at September 1960 prices because at that time the Syrian pound was stable and the profit margin “reasonable.” In an attempt to legitimize the move, the governmentcontrolled media claimed that “there was no justification for raising prices other than the desire to get rich at the expense of other citizens.”51 When ‘Abd al-Nasir came to Syria to attend the third UAR anniversary cele­ brations (20 February-8 March 1961), he found it necessary to justify his recent economic measures. Immediately upon embarking at Latakiyya, he stated:

Brothers, attempts were made to dissuade us from fulfilling our aim. They [the opponents] said: This plan is harmful to the region because it cannot be applied to Syria. Then money speculations began in order to lower the rate of exchange of the pound. Then some of the economists came out - economists whom I call exploiters52 - they came to say we must cancel the plan because the rate of the pound was dropping, and that everything must be left free. Free for whom? Which of us here is free? Which of the people here transfers 1,000 pounds abroad? Nobody. Those who transfer 10,000,20,000, or 100,000 pounds can be counted on the fingers of one hand. None of us can transfer 10,000 or 100,000 pounds [cheers and applause] because we work honestly.53


The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere A few days later, ‘Abd al-Nasir referred in another speech to the “state of anarchy they called free economy.” He claimed that during the last three years of drought Egypt provided $40-$50 million to help Syria. He felt that this had been “somewhat unjust, because the free economy, or economic anarchy, prevailing here [in Syria] was allowing hard currency to End its way abroad.” This meant, he added, “that on transferring foreign currency from Cairo to Damascus this currency was free to proceed to Beirut or Paris or some other capital.”54 Another manifestation of Syria’s new economic direction was the Arabization of its banks on 3 March 1961. A presidential decree stipulated that all banks should become either joint-stock companies owned by UAR citizens or cooperative societies. The EDO was to hold 35 per cent of the shares of each bank.55 Since the decree was issued during his visit in Syria, ‘Abd al-Nasir felt he had to explain it. In a radio and TV broadcast, on the occasion of distributing land title deeds to peasants, he asserted that most Syrian banks were under foreign domination, operating according to private - and not state - interests. Therefore, he continued, the Arabization of banks ensured that the people’s deposits would be invested in the interests of both the state and the people. He also promised to defend the merchants’ interests, painting a tempting picture of benefits that all Egyptians had derived from economic controls in Egypt.56 It is noteworthy that, in contrast to his former sojourns, ‘Abd al-Nasir did not visit the commercial center of Aleppo, probably fearing public protests by the merchant community. In any case, his attempts at mollifying Syrian apprehen­ sions hardly succeeded; although the decree was to become effective only on 31 January 1962, the following weeks saw a marked decrease in bank deposits.57 The February-March economic measures proved to be a turning point in the relations between the two regions. They indicated that Egypt had embarked on an attempt at complete economic absorption. This trend was confirmed by Nazmi ‘Abd al-Hamid, Subgovemor of Egypt’s Central Bank. He told the US consul-general in Alexandria that the economic integration would proceed in logical stages: following the development of parallel structures - the EDO and bank regulations - “the next step will be an eventual merger of each region’s institutions into central organizations for the two.”58 The US consul-general in Damascus was of the same opinion; he concluded that the “framework for Syrian social revolution [is] now in place. However bloodless and humdrum each step has been [it] does not modify revolutionary nature of sum total.”59 Such an assessment also began to pervade the media; the Egyptian weekly Ruz al-Yusuf predicted that within a year the two regions would be fully integrated.60 During the winter of 1961, substantial rainfall (though still less than average; see table 7.1) promised a better crop and raised hopes for a revival of the Syrian 139

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere Table


Rainfall in principal areas in Syria (in m/m)ei 1957/58


























No Data








Dir al-Zur


Hasaka Qamishli













* Through April 1961 Source: USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 487,19 June 1961, 886B.00/6-1961.

economy.62 These hopes, however, were soon dashed by the regulations of February-March 1961, which dealt an economic shock to the Syrian com­ mercial, industrial, and financial communities. They also psychologically wounded the Syrians, since the free-convertibility system was a source of pride for them as “the chief remaining symbol of local autonomy.”63 In light of the magnitude of the change, the US consul-general in Damascus assessed that “ingredients for an explosion would be at hand should ‘money’ find active allies in Syrian officer corps.” He added, however, an important reservation to the effect that “intense scrutiny of all rumors and reports in this field does not [my emphasis] reveal such situation at present.”64 The Syrian business community was appalled from this measure. Its anxiety was evident in a meeting of 300 merchants, headed by ‘Adil Khoja, Chairman of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce and one of the owners of al-Sharika al-Khumasiyya, the largest industrial company, with Syrian economic minis­ ters and Sarraj that took place on 29 March 1961. Similar meetings were held in Damascus, Aleppo, and the Jazira. Although Syrian ministers tried to respond to some of the grievances, they were not in a position to make any substantial changes in the decrees or meaningful promises.63 The whole Egyptian media apparatus was mobilized to placate the Syrian public, who feared that further economic measures were yet to come, including the long-expected amalgamation of the two currencies.66 Moreover, Egyptian 140

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere authorities provided assurances on the envisaged role of private capital in Syria. In mid-April 1961, while presenting the budget estimates for the fiscal year 1961/62 to the National Assembly, Qaysuni clarified that the socialist aspect of the development plan resided in the “belief that both private ownership and private enterprise should exist and be protected within those limits necessary to prevent the re-emergence of feudalism, exploitation and monopoly.” In short, he said, “we intend to ensure that capital shall remain free as long as it contributes to the general welfare.”67 Egyptian attempts to placate the Syrians completely failed and their disen­ chantment with the union grew markedly. Foreign visitors observed open and widespread criticism of the union, especially among the commercial élite. Egypt’s alienation of this group was significant since the Syrian mercantile élite had traditionally been influential in the political system. In contrast, similar measures in Egypt had caused little concern since the business class there was composed of foreigners whose political influence had been negligible.68 Once more Egyptian ignorance of the peculiar conditions in Syria led to the im­ position of measures, which aroused alienation and resentment.

The Impact of the July 1961 Decrees Late in June 1961, another phase in the Egyptian social and economic revol­ ution commenced with the transfer of the entire cotton trade to government hands. The Alexandria futures market was closed and the Egyptian Cotton Commission assumed responsibility for buying and selling all raw cotton at fixed prices. By 9 July, all cotton firms engaged in external trade were nationalized, strengthening the government’s control over supplies of foreign exchange. Another decree reorganized the maritime transport: all companies were to be incorporated into the General Maritime Navigation Company - a government corporation under the Transportation Ministry. A third set of laws, published on 19 July, nationalized Egypt’s massive industrial and commercial property. The remaining private banks and insurance companies were taken over; so were 44 industrial companies such as timber, cement, copper, electricity and motorized transport; half the capital of 86 companies, mainly in commerce and light manufacturing, was expropriated. In addition, the owners of a further 147 companies were dispossessed of their assets as individual shareholdings in the firms were limited to a market value of LE 10,000 (or LS 100,000) in twelve companies. All shares in excess of that amount passed into state ownership. Compensation was decreed in the form of fifteen-year negotiable bonds at 4 per cent interest. On 25 July, another law amended the 1952 ARL by reducing the maximum 141

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere quantity of land ownership from 200 to 100 feddans. Compensation was decreed in the form of forty-year bonds at 2.5 per cent interest. This extension of the ARL was supposed to take about 7.5 per cent of the cultivated land from about 3,500 owners and make it available for distribution to peasants. Another set of decrees was intended to benefit the working class at the expense of the middle and upper classes. First, every board of directors was to include one “workers’ representative” and one “staff emloyees’ representative” among its seven members. Second, income taxes were drastically raised in the upper brackets, reaching a rate of 90 per cent on all annual income over LE 10,000 retroactive to 1 January 1961 (the old law of 1949 fixed a maximum rate of 80 per cent over LE 30,000). Tax rates in the lower brackets remained light, with an initial exemption of LE 1,000. Third, 25 per cent of the annual profits of all companies were to be distributed to workers and staff employees, including 10 per cent in cash bonuses and 15 per cent in housing and other fringe benefits. Fourth, no individual was allowed to hold more than one job - a measure intended to ease unemployment. Fifth, working hours in factories were reduced from eight to seven, or 42 hours per week, without reduction in pay.69 The promulgation of the July decrees coincided - perhaps not incidentally - with the ninth anniversary of the Egyptian Revolution. On 22 July, in his annual speech, ‘Abd al-Nasir justified his recent measures by emphasizing the link between the two revolutions. Attempting to rewrite history, he asserted that “from the first day of the revolution [23 July 1952] it was announced that the solution would be to establish a socialist, democratic cooperative society, free of political, economic and social exploitation.” The current revolution, he went on, was a continuation of the political revolution that had already been completed, and was directed against “the dictatorship of capital.” He explained that he did not oppose private ownership per se, but rather “the exploiting capi­ talist class. . . who use their money to exploit the people and suck their blood.” Thus, the reforms aimed at eliminating the contradictions from a society that until July 1952 was composed of two classes - the exploiters (“only 5 per cent”) and the exploited (“95 per cent”). In his address, ‘Abd al-Nasir dealt only with the Egyptian region, while completely ignoring the impact of the decrees on the Syrian region.70 The decrees aimed at achieving several goals. First, in light of the regime’s apparent loss of popularity over the past year, ‘Abd al-Nasir felt he needed a bold move that would project the UAR as “the only dynamic power in the Arab world.”71 Second, the reforms were intended to limit, if not eliminate altogether, the power of the upper classes, thus achieving a larger measure of social justice. Third, taking over large sectors of the industrial and commercial sectors of the economy would facilitate the mobilization of funds, the direction of investment along preferred lines, and limit consumption so as to yield the required surplus 142

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere for investment. According to Roger Owen, the state was now “in a much better position to control the level of investment, to allocate scarce reserves of foreign exchange and to plan the optimal use of each country’s resources.”72 Finally, the reforms were intended to accelerate the economic integration of the two regions. Most of the decrees were meant to be implemented in the Syrian region as well. Although economists advised ‘Abd al-Nasir not to apply the measures to Syria because of the different economic conditions there, the president believed that “political stability can never come about in Syria unless all banks and in­ surance companies are nationalized. Otherwise, capitalism will be ruling Syria and its government will be a façade.”73 The July decrees amounted to no less than a revolution in the Syrian economy: 75 companies were nationalized and 79 had half of their shares confiscated.74 Besides all of the banks and insurance companies, a number of industrial enterprises were nationalized, including al-Sharika al-Khumasiyya. The Syrian élite, especially landowners, industrialists and merchants, was appalled by the decrees; if implemented, they would virtually destroy the polit­ ical and social positions, which had been established during the late Ottoman and French periods. Moreover, a well-known Syrian proverb says: “ Though you are my brother and friend, don’t get close to my pocket!”75 In this case, ‘Abd al-Nasir indeed got too close to the élite’s pocket. The only sector to receive the measures with some satisfaction was the working class. The secretary-general of the GFTU reportedly sent ‘Abd alNasir a cable of gratitude for “the establishment of true socialism.”76 Yet many workers were apprehensive lest the profit sharing replace the traditional bonus (thirteen months’ wages for twelve months’ work). Many also suspected that the decrees were designed to block their demands for more liberties within the trade unions, wage increases, and better working conditions.77 Seeking to downplay the significance of the measures, Syrian Minister of Labor and Social Affairs Dayri asserted that out of 4.5 million people in Syria, only 855 were affected by the nationalizations, and of that number 159 persons owned LS 100,000,000 worth of shares in the nationalized companies.78 These figures did not impress the Syrian private sector. Lack of confidence in the Syrian pound led to a large-scale flight of capital to Lebanon and consequently the Syrian Lira fell again on the Beirut exchange by ten points in the period from 13 July to 27 September, the eve of the UAR disintegration. The price of gold, on the other hand, had risen sharply.79 Landowners, merchants, and the private sector in general were highly critical of the socialist reforms. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s statement in his Revolution Day speech that “socialism is an endless road” promised that more decrees were yet to come. Indeed, Egyptian newspapers predicted that the Egyptian-Syrian 143

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere committee for the application of a unified UAR customs law would submit its recommendations in September 1961.80 The possibility of an elimination of all customs barriers alarmed the economic élite; disillusioned with their prospects in Syria, many either opened business branches in Beirut or considered emigra­ tion there. Moreover, there were reports of sabotage in Syrian factories by owners who refused to surrender to the decrees.81 Even the Syrian Grand Mufti, Abu al-Yusr ‘Abdin, denounced the decrees, providing Qura’nic verses in support of repudiating the nationalizations. For this, he was relieved of his post by a presidential decree on 16 August 1961.82 No less irritating was the fact that Syrian ministers were not informed in advance of the measures planned. Moreover, it seems the measures were formu­ lated with the Egyptian region in mind, and applied to the Syrian region only as an “after-thought.”83 Syrians felt that the laws stemmed not horn necessity but from the doctrinaire convictions of Cairo planners and the desire to unify the economies along Egyptian lines.84 The socialist reforms attempted to bury the old conservative order in Syria, which derived its power from private capital. Undoubtedly, the reforms made Syria almost even with Egypt on the scale of socialist revolution, thus removing major obstacles to full unification. Yet, in spite of the harsh reaction in almost all Syrian sectors, the American consul-general in Damascus still believed that “Nasir and his team will even­ tually be successful in carrying it out.”85 This proved utterly wrong; feeling totally alienated from the UAR regime, certain dissatisfied Syrian political and economic elements began coalescing around the aim of ending Egyptian control. On 17 August 1961, an article by John Osman in the Daily Telegraph asked: “Has Nasser Nationalized Too Much?”86 In the Syrian case, history proved that he did.





Syria's Secession from the UAR

Political Integration The July 1961 economic decrees were a further step toward economic integra­ tion of the Egyptian and Syrian regions. With the completion of these measures, ‘Abd al-Nasir thought the time was ripe for the final amalgamation of the polit­ ical systems. On 15 August 1961, a presidential decree dissolved the central and two regional governments, replacing them with a unified cabinet. The new government included seven vice-presidents - five Egyptians and two Syrians (Kahala and Sarraj) - each responsible for a certain field, 36 ministers (14 Syrians), and three deputy ministers. The list included only five new ministers - three Egyptians and two Syrians. Certain positions were divided between two ministers - Finance, Planning, Health, Local Government, Supply and Awqaf. Four new ministries were created: High Dam, Scientific Research, Higher Education, and Housing and Public Utilities (the latter replacing the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs).1 The decision to establish a unified cabinet was highly significant. First, according to the new system, Syrian ministers were to be transferred to Cairo. Anger over this patronizing Egyptian attitude led ‘Abd al-Nasir to announce, on 25 August, that all government apparatus would move to Damascus for four months every February, thus turning the city into “a second capital.”2 This sweetened pill could not make up for the widespread Syrian feeling that Damascus had been relegated to the status of a provincial town. Second, the appointment of Sarraj - the most powerful figure in the Syrian region - as vicepresident for internal affairs residing in Cairo was aimed, as we shall see, at disengaging him from sources of power in Syria. Third, fifteen ministries in Damascus with their trained staff were suddenly left without ministers, their future unclear. Frustrated though he was with his new position, Sarraj proclaimed that the reorganization was intended to fulfill the nation’s desire for unity. It is interesting that ‘Abd al-Nasir made no public statement on the occasion of this important change.3 145

Syria ’s Secession from the UAR The unification of government was followed in Syria by the application of the Local Government Law, which had already been introduced in the Egyptian region in March I960.4 Although the law did not make any changes in Syria’s division into eleven govemorates, it directly linked them to Cairo, providing the governors with wider powers than before. Each governor, appointed by the president, would have his own capital, budget, taxes and council. The new system of local administration also aimed at strengthening the link between the NU and the govemorates. The governor was to be assisted by a council, whose members would mainly be appointed and elected NU members. On IS September, ‘Amir - in his capacity as the new “supervisor of the Syrian NU” replacing Sarraj (see below) - issued a decree prescribing the procedure for selection of NU govemorate councils.3 Four days later, ‘Abd al-Nasir issued a decree providing for the dissolution of the former regional NU committees and the institution in their place of a single supreme committee with twenty members. The decree was regarded as complementary to the measures announced in August for reorganization of the government into one central cabinet. Kamal al-Din Husayn, Secretary-General of the Egyptian NU, announced that due to the changes it had been decided to postpone the NU General Congress to February 1962.6 Because of Syrian secession in late September 1961, these decrees were not implemented. A major aim of the political and administrative measures was to undermine Sarraj’s powerful position in the Syrian region. His position had been strength­ ened following the resignation of the Ba‘th ministers (December 1959) and ‘Amir’s return from his mission in Syria (September 1960). The concentration of power in Sarraj’s hands - president of the Syrian EC, Interior Minister, and Secretary-General of the Syrian NU - together with his ruthless measures against his own people, turned him into the most hated personality in Syria. Petran claimed that “the ordinary citizen walked in fear of a legion of secret agents. His mail was censored, his telephone tapped, his conversations reported, his goings and comings watched.” There were indications that even the minis­ ters’ telephones were tapped.7 Above all, Sarraj’s elevated position endangered ‘Abd al-Nasir’s attempts to integrate the two regions.8 In June 1961, ‘Abd alNasir summoned Sarraj, reproaching him for his exaggerated police methods and the difficulties he was creating for the UAR.9 Shortly thereafter he was transferred to Cairo as vice-president responsible for internal affairs. Being a loyal servant of ‘Abd al-Nasir, Sarraj complied with the order, but he was irritated at not being appointed the president’s deputy in charge of Syrian affairs. He was further vexed upon hearing that ‘Amir was assigned to Damascus for implementing the July decrees and accelerating the political unification. Quite expectedly, ‘Amir’s arrival in Syria, on 13 August, opened old wounds. Realizing that he had been made vice-president without actual 146

Syria’s Secession from the UAR powers, and unsatisfied with ‘Abd al-Nasir’s response to his complaints, Sarraj went back to Damascus on 15 September. His arrival, in the words of the American consul-general, was like “a return from Elba.”10 By mobilizing the support of religious sheikhs (whom he had been subsidizing through the Ministry of Awqaf), NU officials, intelligence organizations and certain army officers, Sarraj hoped to show ‘Abd al-Nasir that he was the master in Syria. Sarraj found that not only his supposed allies failed him, but ‘Amir im­ mediately took steps to eliminate his power. On 17 September, he dismissed Security Director Marwan al-Siba‘i, who supervised the “Special Bureaus,” which could arrest any person on the pretext of security. Siba‘i was Sarraj’s close associate, and his dismissal was intended to weaken him. Moreover, secu­ rity authorities were forbidden to arrest anyone without a warrant from a government prosecutor. A revival of long-ignored constitutional guarantees, this measure gave a clear signal that Sarraj’s coercive methods were no longer permissible. The next day, ‘Abd al-Nasir merged the two regional NU execu­ tive committees, thus officially depriving Sarraj of his role as secretary-general of the Syrian NU. These steps led him to submit his resignation." On 18 September, ‘Abd al-Qadir Hatem, the Egyptian Minister of State, was sent to mediate between Sarraj and ‘Amir. When his mission failed, the two rivals were summoned to Cairo to meet with ‘Abd al-Nasir. Believing that “Egyptian domination over Syria had gone too far,” Sarraj attempted to mobi­ lize his supporters on the night of 19-20 September. Only after having been convinced that an operation against ‘Abd al-Nasir was unlikely to succeed,12 Sarraj went with ‘Amir to Cairo. Although ‘Abd al-Nasir reportedly accused Sarraj of ambitions to remain the sole ruler of Syria,13 the meeting yielded a temporary truce: Mahmud Riad, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s adviser for Syrian affairs, was sent to replace ‘Amir. Resuming his functions as vice-president, Sarraj was also appointed to head a ministerial committee for UAR administrative reform.14 On 26 September, Sarraj suddenly submitted his resignation for the second time. ‘Abd al-Nasir accepted it, and sent ‘Amir to resume his role as Syria’s viceroy. There is no conclusive information as to Sarraj’s reasons for taking this step. Probably, he finally realized that the “arrangement” that ‘Abd al-Nasir and ‘Amir had worked out six days earlier was more of a capitulation than a compro­ mise. Thus, “Sarraj’s ten-year climb to power,” wrote the US consul-general in Damascus, “was abruptly interrupted.”13 His removal completed the political centralization in the hands of ‘Abd al-Nasir. The measures of August-September 1961, coming on top of the July socialist decrees, were consistent with ‘Abd al-Nasir’s desire to fully merge the two regions of the UAR. They showed his determination to eliminate all traces of regionalism. No longer would Syrian or Egyptian ministers represent regional interests, but UAR ministers would be responsible for the whole 147

Syria ’s Secession from the UAR nation. Highly unpopular in Syria, these measures further alienated the con­ servative élite, as well as the newly emerged élite that had facilitated the union, namely, the Ba‘th and army officers. Both élites became convinced that if they wanted to maintain their Syrian identity, as well as to regain their old positions in government, now was the time to strike, before the implementation of recent measures. The desire to overthrow the Egyptian-dominated regime was shared by all segments of Syrian society, which suffered from the union in one way or another. This widespread resentment was reflected in new signs appearing in the market, banks and even government offices calling: “Please, Be Patient.” These signs did not mean to encourage politeness but to instill hope that a change was in the offing.16 In spite of all indications of mounting despair, the military coup of 28 September caught ‘Abd al-Nasir by suiprise. Although Heikal claimed in retro­ spect that the coup should not have surprised him,17 the UAR president was unaware of the developments because otherwise he would have taken pre­ emptive measures. All foreign observers made the same mistake. The British assessed that “we could see no reason to anticipate an explosion inside Syria or Egypt.” 18 British and Lebanese newspapers were generally of the opinion that “there is no reason to suppose that the latest change will weaken the structure of the UAR.”19 In June 1961, a CIA intelligence report estimated that “we believe that Nasser has a good chance of avoiding a breakup of the union.”20 Likewise, the Canadian ambassador, who returned from Syria in mid-July, quoted Sarraj to the effect that “there was no element in Syria opposed to the present regime.”21 The Israeli Foreign Ministry and the Military Intelligence offered similar assessments.22 All these appraisals by highly informed sources failed to anticipate what, in retrospect, seems inevitable: a military coup that put an end to the UAR.

The Military Takeover Since 1949 military coups had become common phenomena in Syria. Its history was often punctuated by army involvement in politics, whether directly or behind the scenes. In fact, the establishment of the UAR was intended, inter alia, to distance the army from politics and thus strengthen Syria’s unstable regime. However, with the mounting discontent in the Syrian region, no wonder officers and civilians once more entertained the notion of a military coup. There are indications that a year earlier, in September 1960, certain officers, with Jordanian support, planned a military coup, but they were discouraged by the US and the turn of events.23There are also indications that opportunistic officers occasionally attempted to persuade the US and neighboring Arab countries to 148

Syria ’s Secession from the VAR support a military coup. In June 1961, for example, Salah Shishakli, officer and brother of former military ruler Adib Shishakli ( 1951-54), tried unsuccessfully to enlist US support for a rebellion that would “save Syria from communism.”24 Six junior officers instigated the September 1961 coup. The leading figures were Colonel Haydar al-Kuzbari, Commander of the Desert Forces, and Lt.-Co. ‘Abd al-Karim Nahlawi, Director of Amir’s office in Syria. The two approached several other key officers who agreed to take part in the coup. According to American intelligence sources, the same officers had planned a coup a year earlier but for unknown reasons had postponed it.23 There are indi­ cations of conservative elements in the political and economic élites that supported the officers. Apparently, they were in contact with Ma’mun alKuzbari, a wealthy politician who mediated between the officers and the economic conglomerate, al-Sharika al-Khumasiyya, which expressed readiness to place about 1 million British pounds at the disposal of the movement; an addi­ tional sum was to be collected by Kuzbari abroad.26 On 28 September 1961, at about 2 a.m., mobile and armored units moved from the military camp of Qatana, in the vicinity of Damascus, toward the capital, where they joined forces with the local garrison. Strategic points in and around the capital were occupied at about 4.30 a.m. ‘Amir, Chief-of-Staff Jamal Faysal, a number of Egyptian and Syrian officers, as well as several Syrian ministers were all taken to the army general headquarters. Sarraj was placed under house arrest. At 7.25 a.m., after seizing the Damascus radio station, the rebels broadcast their first statement to the public.27 Calling themselves the Supreme Arab Revolutionary Command of the Armed Forces (SARC), the rebels declared that they aimed at “removing corruption and tyranny and returning the legitimate rights to the people.”28 At 5.10 a.m. ‘Abd al-Nasir was awaked by the telephone near his bed to hear the news of the coup, which Heikal thought was “the greatest blow to the Arab revolutionary movement” since July 1952.29 As ‘Amir was kept under house arrest and having no Egyptian troops in Syria, ‘Abd al-Nasir hoped to use the radio as an instrument of coercion. The Cairo broadcast station turned into temporary headquarters and at 9.07 a.m., following four statements by the SARC, he made his first-ever live radio broadcast. It is ironic that a leader who turned the radio into a state instrument and his speeches were widely and often broadcast, delivered his first live speech only in September 1961. In a grim voice, he said he had decided to speak because “what occurred today is more serious than what happened in 1956. What happened in 1956 was a foreign attack, and what happened today is an act which affects the targets which we have all demanded.” He described the coup as a “stab in the heart of the unity and Arab nationalism,” vowing not to proclaim the dissolution of the UAR “no matter what hardships I may face.” He repeated he was “responsible for Arab 149

Syria ’s Secession from the UAR unity,” and for “this Republic from Qamishli to Aswan,” promising the Syrians that no blood would be shed and that forces of the First (Syrian) Army were moving to crush the mutiny. The UAR, ‘Abd al-Nasir concluded, “will remain the vanguard of the Arab struggle.”30 Since by then most of the First Army units (except for the Aleppo-Latakiyya region) had announced their allegiance to the takeover, the insurgents commenced negotiations with 'Amir on the future of the UAR. They were reportedly willing to accept a settlement if the following demands were met: abolition of the July 1961 decrees; amendment of the Agrarian Reform Law; elimination of “opportunists” (perhaps a reference to Sarraj) from the regime; and turning the UAR into a federal union, in which the Syrian region would enjoy an equal status to that of the Egyptian region.31 ‘Amir’s position proved surprisingly moderate; he promised to take measures that would restore to the people their “freedom and dignity,” and stated that a peaceful solution should be attained. On the basis of this understanding, the SARC issued Communiqué No. 9 from “the Radio Station of the UAR in Damascus” (instead of Radio Damascus). This statement explained that the SARC had submitted certain demands to ‘Amir, “who understood the real affairs of the army and took appro­ priate measures to solve them in the interest of the unity.”32 At that point, demonstrators in Damascus threw their Syrian flags and their anti-UAR signs to the river; instead, UAR flags and ‘Abd al-Nasir’s pictures were hoisted. For almost four hours, it seemed that the UAR had revived. The short time that elapsed until the announcement of Communiqué No. 10 proved fatal for the future of the UAR. During these hours, the insurgents realized that Cairo did not support ‘Amir’s moderate policy. On the contrary, Heikal later claimed that ‘Abd al-Nasir ordered ‘Amir not to bargain with the rebels since he “was not prepared to be a Naguib [a symbol of a puppet in Egypt] in Syria.”33 He ordered him, however, to play for time, thus allowing the UAR to take some military measures to restore the union. Yet the breakdown of the talks led the insurgents to announce that Communiqué No. 9 had been cancelled because ‘Amir “went back on his promise.”34 This episode indicated that perhaps the officers were not intent on dissolving the UAR but on securing the redress of various grievances affecting the military and civilians. According to this interpretation, the UAR might have been saved if ‘Abd al-Nasir had been prepared to make concessions. Yet it is possible that he rejected the rebels’ demands because he mistakenly thought he enjoyed the support of the Syrian people.35 At 5.20 p.m., ‘Amir, Jamal Faysal and the Syrian pro-UAR ministers were deported to Cairo. While the plane was still on its way, ‘Abd al-Nasir made his second radio broadcast, emphasizing his refusal to accept “bargaining” or “a half-way solution.” In a grave tone, he encouraged every Syrian “to carry out 150

Syria’s Secession from the UAR his duty in the service of the principle,” promising that he would not “abandon those who have today supported the Arab Republic and unity.”36 ‘Abd alNasir’s statement, though it stopped short of overtly ordering loyal troops to start shooting, was undoubtedly interpreted in that way. The broadcast was followed by a decree dismissing the six officers who allegedly carried out the revolt. The SARC retaliated by launching a propaganda vendetta against ‘Abd al-Nasir’s regime.37 During the negotiations, an Egyptian military operation was planned for restoring the status quo ante in Syria. The operation was based on the assump­ tion that Egyptian forces landing in Syria would join units of the First Army, which remained loyal to ‘Abd al-Nasir. Indeed, on the morning of 28 September reliable reports indicated that the northern and coastal commands still supported the union. Consequently, ‘Abd al-Nasir ordered the dispatch of two parachute brigades to Latakiyya, as well as all of the naval forces. At 7.30 p.m., the first wave of seven transport aircraft started out from Egypt. However, by the time the force arrived in Syria, Aleppo and Latakiyya were firmly in the hands of the rebels. Hence, ‘Abd al-Nasir had to call off the operation just before midnight; the planes and naval units were recalled, but a token force that landed in Latakiyya was ordered to surrender. The following day, ‘Abd al-Nasir explained that he ordered “not to fire a single bullet” so as to “avoid Arab blood­ shed.” With the stillborn operation, Syria’s secession became a fa it accompli.3*

Syrian Reactions to Secession On the evening of 29 September, the SARC announced that Ma’mun al-Kuzbari had agreed to set up a provisional government that would supervise the elec­ tions. In the eleven-member cabinet, Kuzbari served as prime minister, foreign minister and defense minister. Nothing in his political biography suggested why he was chosen for this task. President of the lawyers’ federation, Kuzbari had been a leading member of Shishakli’s former Liberation Party, was elected president of the Syrian chamber in June 1953, and served as minister of educa­ tion under Sa‘id al-Ghazzi’s cabinet (September 1955-June 1956).39 Thus, the main reasons for Kuzbari’s appointment were probably his social-economic background and his kinship relations. Son of a rich, influential Damascene family of landowners and traders, he was also the son-in-law of ‘Adil al-Khoja, a prominent member of the Company of Five and President of the Damascus Chamber of Commerce. As a lawyer, Ma’mun served as the company’s legal adviser. He was connected to the army as well through his cousin, Colonel Haydar al-Kuzbari, a leading officer in the coup. It should be remembered that Ma’mun al-Kuzbari was one of the eleven Syrian leaders who signed the union 151

Syria’s Secession from the UAR declaration on 1 February 1958.40 He selected his ministers on the basis of personal and party affiliations; they all belonged to the old political and economic élite.41 Kuzbari’s first policy statement was a clear denunciation of the previous regime. Praising the “blessed revolutionary uprising that truly expressed the sufferings of the Arab people in Syria,” he promised to form “stable consti­ tutional condition within a maximum period of four months.” The declared aim of the government was to undo some of the measures imposed by the UAR. First, Kuzbari promised to restore the general freedoms of the citizens. Indeed, he immediately announced the abolition of the emergency law and of all types of censorship. Second, he promised to build the army to full strength. Third, he assured the workers that the rights gained during the union would be maintained and strengthened. Fourth, he declared that the fields of commerce, industry and agriculture would be open to “individual enterprise” (badaha fardiyya). Finally, he promised that the government would defend the strength and stability of the national currency, and ensure free conversion to other currencies. To make clear that the separation of Syria from the UAR was not a move against Arab unity per se, Kuzbari pledged to achieve “a true and comprehensive unity based on freedom and equality.”42 Since all the groups of the élite, as well as the public, supported the military takeover, it met with little resistance. The economic élite particularly received Kuzbari’s declaration with relief and enthusiasm. On 30 September, an impres­ sive meeting of representatives of all chambers of commerce, industry and agriculture, as well as other economic organizations, was held in Damascus. In a long statement, the chambers hailed the “blessed revolution” and clarified its reasons. The statement asserted that the legislation imposed on Syria was intended “to weaken the country’s economic potentialities, block its way to industrialization, and convert it into an agricultural country supplying agricul­ tural products and raw materials to Egypt, and, at the same time, open Syria’s vast markets to Egypt’s industrial products.” It accused Egypt of disregarding Syria’s unique economic and social conditions, including its private enterprise and its ties with neighboring states. The chambers complained that their memo­ randums and letters sent to ‘Abd al-Nasir, requesting that he stop turning Syria into “another Aswan or Zaqaziq” (peripheral Egyptian districts), had been disregarded. After describing Egyptian economic errors, the statement ended with the declaration that the chambers felt “it is their duty to support the economic principles contained in the Cabinet statement.”43 On 2 October, sixteen prominent politicians, representing the National, People’s and Ba‘th parties, as well as Independents, held a meeting in Damascus at which a manifesto was signed. The document expressed gratitude for the instigators of the coup and asserted that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s oppressive 152

Syria ’s Secession from the UAR regime had deprived the union of its meaning. It further stated that the suppres­ sion of political life had driven the army to revolt in order to realize the people’s wish for democratic and constitutional freedoms; and that the Syrian people extended its hand to the Egyptians to free themselves from the shackles of dictatorship. Among the prominent figures signing the manifesto were Ahmad Qanbar, Rashad Jabri, Rushdi al-Kikhya, Nazim al-Qudsi (People’s Party); Sabri al-‘Asali, As‘ad Harun, Ahmad al-Sharabati, Hamid al-Khoja (National Party); Akram al-Hourani, Salah al-Din al-Bitar (Ba‘th); Khalid al-‘Azm, Bashir al-‘Azma (Independents). Five of them (‘Asali, Harun, Bitar, Khoja and ‘Azm) had signed the union declaration of February 1958. The communists and the PPS did not associate themselves with the statement, but their organs in Lebanon welcomed the coup.44 Other politicians, such as Faris al-Khouri and the Druze leader Sultan alAtrash, issued their own personal declarations of support. Particularly indicative of the prevailing mood was the vehement criticism of the UAR by former president Quwwatli, who had been a staunch supporter of the UAR. On 23 October, upon his return from medical treatment in Switzerland, he declared: Looking back, I find myself constrained to single out two days as the best days of my life: the day when I hoisted the banner of independence on your behalf in 1946, and the day when I proclaimed, on your behalf also, the unity of Egypt and Syria in 1958. God is a witness to the fact that when you acclaimed the unity you were as true and as loyal as you could be. But when you threw your weight behind unity and gave it your blessings you did so in the expectation that you would participate actively in building and organizing unity and share the responsibility of determining its future, widening its vistas, spreading its call and contracting the Arabs to it by some form of unity or union. That was because unity does not mean an act of annexation, and the presidential system does not mean the sepa­ ration of the ruler from the ruled. You rightly aspired to participate in building and developing the unity, because it was the climax of our dreams . . . My disap­ pointment is great and my amazement is greater. Why has the unity turned into a heap of rubble?. . . The rulers [of the UAR] succeeded in creating intellectual and social chaos, quite apart from the pressure, oppression and terror they employed. Under such circumstances, consternation and indignation became the hallmark of life in this country... It is an established fact that some of the theoretical doctrines and policies which prevailed in Egypt and Syria during the past three years and which are applicable in Egypt cannot be applied in Syria because of the geograph­ ical and social differences between them.43

Being a politician who had long cherished the ideal of Arab unity, Quwwatli was careful to castigate only this particular experiment and not the principle itself. “Despite all that has happened,” he reminded his listeners, “I advise you 153

Syria's Secession from the VAR not to think that the abortive experiment means the failure of unity as a prin­ ciple and doctrine.” He further added that he was “optimistic that our first experiment has opened for us a base for planning a firm unity which researchers and scientists will study before it is considered by the officials of states. This country should be enthusiastic in calling for a bold Arab unity among all the Arab countries, including sister Egypt.”46 On top of these political statements, the SARC published a declaration that explained the army’s motives for the coup. Concentrating on military affairs, the SARC complained that Egypt had weakened the First Army by curtailing its strength and equipment; that Egyptian officers had bypassed their Syrian superiors; that the defense budget had been distributed unevenly; and that the entire army had undergone a process of “Egyptianization” rather than “unifi­ cation.”47

Egyptian Responses to Secession Throughout the crisis, the Egyptian media clearly reflected the government’s position. On the morrow of the coup, the newspapers asserted that the union should be defended, if necessary, with blood.48 The influential al-Akhbar described the secession as a “disaster” (inakba), matched only by the Palestinian nakba of May 1948.49 As the prospects of an immediate Egyptian military oper­ ation receded, the media moderated its tone, directing its main criticism against the economic élite - the Company of Five (al-Sharika al-Khumasiyya) in particular - which allegedly stood behind the coup.30This argument was further propagated by ‘Abd al-Nasir in his speech of 30 September: Brethren, the position was like that. Five persons in Syria, five persons in Damascus were drawing endless profits. Five persons were directing the monopoly, five persons were dominating, five persons formed the capitalist dictatorship, five persons were appointing the government. The head of the government who was proclaimed today in Syria was appointed previously by those five and was a lawyer employed by this company of five. It was a company of five persons, a company that was everything. The people, five million of them, had no say in the matter whatever. [The term “five” was repeated ten (!) times in this paragraph]31

The major battle over Syria moved to the diplomatic arena, where the ques­ tion of granting recognition was discussed. ‘Abd al-Nasir thought that if the Western powers could be persuaded to withhold recognition, it would delegitimize the new Syrian regime, leading to its downfall and a revival of the 154

Syria’s Secession from the UAR union. Meanwhile, however, three Middle Eastern states - Jordan, Turkey and Iran - hurried to recognize the new regime.52 Tunisia called for Syria’s readmission to the Arab League as a full member, but ‘Abd al-Haliq Hassouma, the Egyptian-born Secretary-General, deliberately procrastinated.55 On 29 September, Jordan was the first state to extend formal recognition to the new Syrian regime. In his meetings with Western officials, King Husayn looked surprised, but could not conceal his jubilation at the turn of events. He was elated that his archenemy, ‘Abd al-Nasir, had been dealt such a blow, and that Syria would no longer constitute a springboard for Egypt to conquer Jordan or subvert its internal affairs. The US ambassador in Amman commented that Husayn was “more happier and more relaxed than I have seen him since my arrival in Jordan.’’54 Many reports claim that Jordan either supported the coup or was in close touch with the rebels. Husayn also thought to move Jordanian forces to the Syrian border, but was dissuaded by the US. Saudi Arabia may have been involved as well.55 Naturally, the king requested that the US and Britain recognize the Syrian regime “as soon as possible.’’ A skillful diplomat, Husayn argued that an early move would extricate ‘Abd al-Nasir from a diffi­ cult position by providing him with an “honorable excuse for doing nothing in Syria.”56 Cairo immediately reacted by breaking off diplomatic relations with Jordan and Turkey (relations with Iran had already been broken in July 1960), and launching a fierce propaganda campaign against them.57 As much as he resented the unilateral act of Jordan, Turkey and Iran, ‘Abd al-Nasir realized that the key for the continuation of the Syrian regime lay in Western hands. On 30 September, Egypt’s Foreign Minister Fawzi met with Secretary of State Dean Rusk at the UN General Assembly, asking that the US “not be hasty in extending recognition” to the new Syrian regime.58 The next day, Mustafa Kamel, UAR Ambassador in Washington, urged the US “not to consider [the] question of recognition of [the] new Syrian regime.” He empha­ sized that from a legal point of view, “nothing has changed and the UAR continues to exist.” In what appears as a veiled threat, Kamel added that if the US recognized the new Syrian regime it would jeopardize its own interests as well as those “of the biggest country in the area,” thus “putting the UAR in a most delicate situation.”59 In two further meetings with State Department officials Kamel urged the US to postpone its recognition for “weeks or even months.”60 At the same time, a similar demand was presented to the British; the UAR ambassador in London told Sir Roger Stevens, Under-Secretary for Middle Eastern Affairs, that his government was “determined to maintain the UAR at all costs" [my emphasis], adding that the coup “ran against the tide of history.”61 Much to ‘Abd al-Nasir’s relief, neither the US nor Britain was inclined to grant immediate recognition to the Syrian regime. The US assessment was that 155

Syria’s Secession from the UAR “the defection of Syria from the UAR is not necessarily in the US best inter­ ests,” and that in ‘‘the unlikely event that there is an opportunity for preservation of the UAR without bloodshed, we should welcome it.”62Similarly, the Foreign Office concluded that “looking at the Middle East as a whole, we do not think the Syrian coup and the breaking up of the UAR is a good thing.”63 Moreover, the US and Britain informed ‘Abd al-Nasir that they did not intend to take any precipitate decision concerning Syria, promising to consult with him about such a move.64 Thus, ‘Abd al-Nasir received a short grace period in which he could try to reverse the tide in Syria. In conjunction with his secret contacts with the West, ‘Abd al-Nasir took several measures aimed at restoring the status quo in Syria. He made clear publicly that he did not intend to accept the new regime as a fait accompli. First, the Egyptian media asserted that the UAR, despite the coup, would retain its name, flag and anthem “whatever turn events may take.”63 Second, vicious propaganda warfare was launched against the “secessionist [infisali] regime.” ‘Abd al-Nasir himself played a key role in this campaign: in an important speech at Cairo University on 2 October, he equated the regime with other “known Arab traitors” such as Nuri al-Sa‘id and King Husayn. In what could be construed as a call for a counter-coup, he remarked that “although some officers deceived the rest of the members of the First Army, I cannot help feeling that it is the strong patriotic army which works for Arab nationalism and unity.” Having rejected all of the Syrian accusations about Egypt’s domination and exploitation of Syria, he concluded: Brothers, there are mistakes which we have seen today. This setback today will neither be a disaster or a reason for despair. But this setback is the starting point for a full movement with all our forces against reaction, against exploitation and against imperialism; and for the establishing of social justice, for the protection of socialism and for the protection of Arab nationalism. We, brothers, have a great duty towards the future. You are the soldiers who will hoist the banners for the realization of this duty. We must have courage; courage against the enemies and courage towards ourselves, so that God realizes our aim. May God lead you to success.66

Although ‘Abd al-Nasir only insinuated, the Egyptian propaganda directly urged the Syrians to rise against Kuzbari’s government. Radio Cairo broad­ cast false reports about mass anti-government demonstrations and clashes with police in Syria. The propaganda was directed at the Druze and ‘Alawite minorities. The latter were strategically important since they resided in the hill country near Latakiyya, which had served as a landing site for Egyptian troops in October 1957 and in September 1961.67 156

Syria’s Secession from the UAR Meanwhile, Egyptian forces were kept ready for a possible military inter­ vention. American and Canadian military sources detected preparations in Egypt for an air-sea movement to Syria. It was reported that parachute troops were in a state of alert at al-Maza airfield and that equipment for two brigades had been loaded onto ships in Alexandria. The US assessed that the aim of these preparations was either to support a counter-coup or to launch an outright in­ vasion, including the capture of Latakiyya port and the Aleppo airfield. A senior UAR officer told the Canadian attaché that “if [an] opportunity presents itself, they are in a position to regain control of Syria.”6* Adamantly opposed to an Egyptian military action, the US tried discreetly to dissuade ‘Abd al-Nasir from resorting to force. This included a personal message from President Kennedy to ‘Abd al-Nasir, sent on 3 October, which hailed his efforts “to stabilize the situation by peaceful means.” Kennedy added that he was “especially impressed with Nasser’s statesmanlike address of September 29 in which he rejected resort to force or shedding of Arab blood as means of settling current dispute with Syrian insurgents.”69 On 6 October, with the prospects of a military action receding, American surveillance was dis­ continued.70 Still, the Western powers warned that “Nasser was watching with interest and ready to intervene if the propitious moment arrived.”71 Luckily for the Syrians, this “propitious moment” did not arrive. The exist­ ence of a firmly entrenched regime and the strong American resistance to an Egyptian military operation compelled ‘Abd al-Nasir to accept Syria’s secession. His radio broadcast on S October, addressed to “the brothers throughout the Arab homeland,” constituted his first public acknowledgment of the UAR break-up. After enumerating its achievements, he declared that he no longer objected to Syria’s admission to the UN and to the Arab League, promising that the UAR would recognize any government freely elected by the Syrian people.72 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s moderate, some would even say dignified,73 stance stemmed from his realization that he could not change the course of events in Syria at that point. His attitude, however, should not be construed as a final acceptance of a separate Syrian state. Egyptian attempts to bring Syria back into the UAR - or at least to control its affairs - would continue in the near future. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s change of heart facilitated the Syrian regime’s recognition by the Western powers and the Soviet Union. Kennedy’s formal message of recognition to ‘Abd al-Nasir was delivered by Ambassador Badeau on 7 October, but the official statement was published only three days later. A prag­ matic leader, ‘Abd al-Nasir expressed grateful appreciation, thanking Badeau for the judicious American approach.74 This opened the way for Britain and many other countries to recognize the new Syrian regime during October and November 1961.75 No longer needed or wanted, all Egyptian officers, teachers 157

Syria 's Secession from the UAR and other technocrats left Syria by 20 November;76 at the same time, almost all Syrians residing in Cairo returned to Damascus. However, as an expression o f support for ‘Abd al-Nasir, or because of fear of personal revenge, seven former Syrian ministers (out of sixteen) decided to remain in Cairo.77 The loss of Syria was undoubtedly a personal blow to ‘Abd al-Nasir since his prestige in the Arab world was largely associated with the UAR experiment. Its failure cast a heavy shadow on his ability to achieve the dream of a unified Arab state. Yet the secession was a kind of relief for him as well, since he had been greatly preoccupied with the Syrian problems to the detriment of pressing Egyptian problems. A vivid proof of this was given by ‘Abd al-Nasir’s wife Tahiyya,78 in her talk with the Canadian ambassador’s wife, in mid-October 1961. Rarely concerned with diplomatic courtesies, Mrs ‘Abd al-Nasir was delighted to host Mrs Ford. During their meeting, the former admitted that she was happy and relieved that the “burden” of Syria had been dropped. She explained that over the past year the president had been preoccupied mainly with Syria, and now could perhaps concentrate on his own country and on his family. “Now, without Syria,” she hoped, “he will not have to work so hard.” Reporting on this conversation to Ottawa, the Canadian ambassador wrote patronizingly: “since she [Mrs ‘Abd al-Nasir] is neither a very original nor very intelligent woman, I presume she reflects the mood of her husband.”79 Indeed, when US Senator Hubert Humphrey met with ‘Abd al-Nasir on 22 October 1961, the latter admitted the seriousness of the setback to his prestige but expressed satisfaction at being relieved of the Syrian burden. He stressed that Syria’s secession would now enable him to concentrate on Egypt - some­ thing he “should have been doing all along.”80 As a realist politician, ‘Abd al-Nasir was attempting to capitalize on the advantages of an inherently dis­ advantageous situation. Yet, in spite of the relief he had felt, he must also have felt humiliated by the unhappy results of the union. If the dream of Arab unity was shattered beyond repair, he still hoped the damage to his reputation could be rectified - a goal that would consume much of his energies in the coming years.


9 The End of a Dream

Developments in Syria Kuzbari’s caretaker cabinet was entrusted with the task of holding elections, due in early December 1961, to an enlarged parliament composed of 172 seats. Meanwhile, various steps were taken to consolidate the legitimacy of the new regime, under virulent attack by Egyptian propaganda. First, the Syrian branch of the NU - a major Egyptian vehicle for controlling Syrian internal affairs was dissolved on 1 October.1 Second, Kuzbari promulgated a comprehensive plan for a federal union of the Arab states, taking into consideration several of the mistakes supposedly made in the establishment of the UAR.2 By publishing such a detailed plan only two weeks after the union’s collapse, the Syrian government intended to demonstrate - partly in response to Egyptian accusa­ tions - that it did not oppose Arab unity in principle, but the particular type of union that had existed between Syria and Egypt. Third, the government acted against some of those who had served in or collaborated with the UAR. The main target was Sarraj’s formidable intelli­ gence apparatus, which was primarily responsible for the creation of a police state in Syria. His intelligence organizations were dissolved and their 6,500 employees dismissed. Sarraj himself and about thirty of his staff were arrested.3 The cabinet also formed an investigation committee and a “Council of Justice” to punish all persons who had allegedly harmed the state and the people. The trials were scheduled to begin in January 1962. The Interior Ministry invited the public to submit complaints of persecutions by officials of the former regime; by 5 November, the Ministry reported that 1,500 complaints had been received. The SARC also promised to publish a “black book” on the alleged atrocities of the UAR.4 On 17 October, in an attempt to reassure the economic élite that had sup­ ported the secession, Kuzbari published a statement nullifying the July 1961 socialist decrees. The urgency with which he acted to abolish these measures substantiates the assertion that their promulgation, as far as the economic élite 159

The End o f a Dream was concerned, was the immediate cause for the secession.5To secure the sup­ port of the lower classes, however, the new economic policy did not envisage a complete return to the pre-union liberal economy, but a mixture of capital­ ism and socialism called “controlled economic freedom.” Kuzbari asserted that there was a need “for state intervention to ensure a just distribution of the national income.” Yet he expressed respect for private ownership and initia­ tive, encouragement of small investors, and fight against monopolies. He endorsed agrarian reform in principle, but promised to study the complaints raised against the Agrarian Reform Law and to redress the injustices without harming the peasants. He envisaged a greater role for the state in the economy, controlling public utilities such as irrigation systems, dams, transport, harbors, and electricity; defense projects; educational, health, and housing projects. In conclusion, Kuzbari promised to redress the mistakes made by the previous government including “improvised legislation,” which had led to “anarchy, corruption. . . and the crisis of unemployment.”6 This statement was preceded by the formation of a committee, headed by Tzzat al-Tarabulsi, a former gov­ ernor of the Syrian Central Bank who had resigned in February 1961 in protest against Egypt’s socialist measures, which was charged with the study of eco­ nomic and financial reforms.7 Behind the scenes, Kuzbari’s cabinet enjoyed the army’s support. Toward the end of October, the title “Revolutionary Command” ceased to appear and all army statements were made in the name of the army command or the new Chief-of-Staff, General ‘Abd al-Karim Zahr al-Din. A statement published on 22 November, three days before the opening of the election campaign, indicated that the army was still playing a crucial role in Syrian politics. It declared that the army was the “faithful guardian of the people,” while warning it would “strike with an iron fist” against opportunists who tried to make use of its name in the election campaign.8 In demonstration of the wide national support for the secession, a National Charter was published on 9 November, signed by prominent Syrian politicians, most of whom had endorsed the “secessionist manifesto” of 2 October. The signatories declared their support for a decentralized, constitutional Arab union. They also advocated a mixed economy, which would safeguard private owner­ ship and individual enterprise while protecting the rights of workers and peasants, as well as allowing a measure of state involvement. The fact that the document was a product of an important rally, held at the officers’ club in Damascus and attended by the Chief-of-Staff, indicated that the army supported the National Charter.9On 15 November, a provisional constitution was promul­ gated. Its first Article explicitly declared that “the Syrian Arab Republic is an independent sovereign state and is part of the great Arab fatherland.”10 The 160

The End o f a Dream constitution was to be ratified by a plebiscite, scheduled to take place on elec­ tion day. In preparation for the elections and the referendum on 1 December, Kuzbari’s cabinet resigned and a caretaker cabinet, headed by ‘Izzat al-Nuss, was appointed on 20 November. Its task was to hold the elections “at their scheduled time and in an atmosphere of neutrality, impartiality and confi­ dence.’’11The election campaign was kept brief, only a week, and was moderate in tone. Candidates canvassed support on a personal basis because party poli­ tics had not yet been authorized. The formation of election lists and the election campaign itself, however, were not devoid of partisan undertones. The calm atmosphere was broken only by the propaganda from Cairo, which called upon the Syrian people to boycott the elections.12 The election results confirmed Syria”s political swing to the right - as the US Ambassador in Damascus put it, “victory for conservatives, defeat for communists, triumph for Khalid al-’Azm, and inconclusive regarding Ba’thists.”13 Indeed, right-wing candidates affiliated with the People’s Party (33), the National Party (21), the Arab Liberation Movement (4), and the Muslim Brotherhood (10) swept virtually all the major cities; tribal seats went for traditional leaders (22). On the left, Ba‘th leaders Hourani, Hamdun, Qannut and Kallas swept Hama. Together with Ba‘th sympathizers such as Nafuri and ‘Abd al-Karim, the party accumulated 15-18 seats - proportionally less than its share in the 1954 elections. Interestingly enough, Bitar failed to be elected in Damascus. In contrast, Kuzbari and ‘Azm headed the Damascus list, their popularity probably reflecting their constant opposition to the UAR.14 The composition of the new parliament resembled, to a large extent, the 1954 assembly. Not only did the People’s Party remain the largest, at least 56 of the 142 deputies elected in 1954 were re-elected to the new parliament. It included 34 former ministers and five former prime ministers. All of these numbers attested to the conservative nature of the new regime. The new parliament elected Kuzbari as its speaker, Nazim al-Qudsi as Syria’s President, and Ma’aruf al-Dawalibi as Prime Minister. Both Qudsi and Dawalibi were leaders of the People’s Party from Aleppo.13 The fact that chamber and cabinet were dominated by right-wing elements ensured that at least some of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s socialist measures would be reversed. Indeed, Dawalibi’s policy statement, delivered on 8 January 1962, fore­ shadowed political and economic changes. In the realm of Arab unity, he promised that Syria’s aim was “to bring about the unity of the various parts of the Arab homeland.’’ Based on the mistakes of the previous experiment, he asserted that Syria’s conditions for joining a union were that it “should be based on freedom, that it should promote the feeling of fraternity and serve the pure Arab aspirations which carry no trace of colonialism.’’ In the economic sphere, 161

The End o f a Dream Dawalibi castigated the UAR policy for harming Syria’s economy, promising to maintain a “controlled economic freedom.’’ This policy entailed a certain measure of state involvement in the economy, but also a respect for private ownership. Dawalibi also promised to repeal the nationalization laws, amend the ARL and restore freedom of currency. Peasants and workers, however, were assured that the benefits gained during the union would be maintained.16 In late January and early February 1962, the Dawalibi cabinet, backed by the right-wing majority in parliament, adopted certain economic measures. Many industrial companies were de-nationalized and the ARL was amended. According to the modified law, landowners were allowed to retain 200 hectares of irrigated land (instead of 80) and 600 hectares of non-irrigated land (instead of 300). In addition, new banking regulations were introduced.17 In the Arab arena, closer relations developed between Iraq and Syria. On 21 January, a toplevel delegation headed by Iraq’s Foreign Minister Hashim Jawad came to Damascus for a three-day visit. The final communiqué envisaged closer defense cooperation, as well as the implementation of the economic agreement signed in November 1961.16The Syrian-Iraqi rapprochement culminated in a historic meeting between Presidents Qasim and Qudsi in mid-March 1962. Naturally, Cairo viewed all these developments in Syria with great concern.

Developments in Egypt The Syrian secession came as a surprise to Egypt. Although many Egyptians remained largely indifferent to the whole episode and quickly adjusted to the new situation, the move and the subsequent accusations leveled by Syria against Egypt wounded its pride. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speech on 5 October constituted an admission of the existence of a separate Syrian entity, but the wound still remained open. This rather emotional response, coupled with the recognition of reality, was acutely reflected in Ahmad Baha’ al-Din’s weekly article in Akhbar al-Yawm. Opening his essay with a quote from the French poet Baudelaire on “the wound and the knife,” he continued in this emotional, literary strain: “instead of dipping the handkerchief in the blood of the union’s slaughter, and show it to eighty million Arabs, we should today dip the hand­ kerchief in warm water, clean the wound, stop the bleeding, and cleave together the veins afresh in the body of the Arab thought.” 19 The collapse of the union and the consolidation of the new Syrian regime considerably eroded ‘Abd al-Nasir’s prestige in the Arab world. Although his legitimacy at home was not at stake, his regime as stable as ever, ‘Abd al-Nasir felt it necessary to explain the developments to the Arab masses. In an unusual speech, broadcast on 16 October, he acknowledged that this event was “a 162

The End o f a Dream decisive point in the history of the Arab nation.” After reiterating some of the achievements of the UAR, he listed five errors that, in his opinion, caused its collapse: the reconciliation with “reaction” (raj 'iyya); lack of sufficient popular organization; the lack of revolutionary zeal among the masses; a government machinery unqualified for its revolutionary task; and the failure to eradicate opportunism and selfishness. This assessment led ‘Abd al-Nasir to conclude that “to proceed with all force toward revolutionary acts is the only answer to all the demands of our national struggle.” In his view, it was inevitable that “we should now carry out a complete reform operation that will redraft the ideals and morals of society.” He completed his speech in a personal vein: Compatriots, I have given and devoted my life to this Arab revolution. I will remain here as long as God wishes me to stay. I will struggle with all strength for the people’s demands and will offer all my life for the masses’ right to life. The support this nation has accorded me is beyond expectation. I have nothing to offer it in return but every drop of my heart. Compatriots, the hour of revolutionary action has struck. By God’s will, we shall work, and by God’s will, we shall triumph.20

This speech serves as a guideline for understanding ‘Abd al-Nasir’s postUAR policy. His immediate action was against “reaction”; on the night of 16-17 October, the authorities suddenly arrested a number of persons known for their wealth or their connections with the pre-revolutionary regime. On 19 October, al-Ahram began to publish lists of persons (sometimes along with their photographs) with large share-holdings in important companies. On 21 October, Vice-President and Minister of Interior, Zakaria Muhi al-Din, announced that “as a result of the experiment which took place in Syria” it was decided to detain 37 “reactionaries” and to sequestrate the property of 167 persons. Another list of 255 whose property had been confiscated was pub­ lished nine days later. The total number of persons whose property was sequestrated during October-December 1961 was around 700-800.21 In announcing the various measures, ‘Abd al-Nasir hoped to achieve three aims: to divert public opinion from the UAR collapse; to find a scapegoat for it; and to annihilate a group capable of engineering a coup in Egypt, as had been done in Syria. The UAR traumatic experience did not lead to any significant changes in the administration; all key figures remained in their seats in the new government of 18 October. However, the Egyptian public held War Minister ‘Amir, in charge of Syrian affairs during the coup, responsible for the failure. There were rumors that he had ignored reports on the impending Syrian coup.22 Indeed, ‘Abd al-Nasir awaited his resignation which, according to Sadat, was submitted 163

The End o f a Dream after his forced return from Syria. Yet on the advice of his comrades, ‘Amir decided to stay in his post. Unable to dismiss his old friend, ‘Abd al-Nasir asked ‘Amir to dismiss General Sidqi Mahmud, Commander of the Air Force, osten­ sibly for not having transported troops to Syria quickly enough to quell the rebellion. Still, in Egyptian public opinion ‘Amir was tainted as responsible for the failure of the union. This episode further soured the relations between him and ‘Abd al-Nasir, which culminated in the crisis of June 1967.23 On the administrative level, ‘Abd al-Nasir tried to devise a new popular base of support to replace the defunct NU. On 4 November, he declared the “re­ organization of all national popular powers on a democratic basis.” He then announced the formation of a Preparatory Committee for Congress of Popular Powers under the chairmanship of former NU Secretary-General Sadat. Composed of 250 members, the Committee included the entire cabinet, all provincial governors, 26 members of the former National Assembly (dissolved on 7 November), and many other senior officials.24On 25 November, in a threehour speech during the opening session, ‘Abd al-Nasir declared that although the Liberation Rally and the National Union had done “splendid” work, they had failed to eliminate “reaction”; thus, the task of the new institution was to complete the socialist revolution.23 Another important development took place in the sphere of foreign policy. In an attempt to offset the harm caused by the UAR dissolution, ‘Abd al-Nasir searched for external victories. This entailed a change in Egyptian policy, which was set forth by Heikal, editor of al-Ahram and ‘Abd al-Nasir’s informal spokesman, in late December 1961. Heikal made a distinction between “Egypt as a state and Egypt as a revolution.” Egypt as a state, he explained, “recog­ nizes boundaries in its dealings with governments,” whereas Egypt as a revolution “should never hesitate or halt before the borders, but should carry its call across the borders.” Heikal further asserted that in the context of Arab unity, Egypt as a revolution “should extend its hand to all progressive elements.” If a contradiction existed between the two policies, “I say that the role of Egypt as revolution should have preference.” In the case of Syria, he declared that the Egyptian struggle was not directed against the Syrian officers but against “reaction”; this struggle should end with a “final victory over and destruction of reaction and imperialism.”26 A logical consequence of Egypt’s new foreign policy was the decision to dissolve the United Arab States - the defunct association between the UAR and the Yemen, which had been made public on 26 December 1961. Since the association with Yemen’s medieval regime appeared contradictory to ‘Abd alNasir’s revolutionary image, he exploited the occasion of the Imam’s castigation of the UAR socialist policy to dissolve the UAS.27 This enabled ‘Abd al-Nasir to launch a vicious propaganda campaign against the Imam and 164

The End o f a Dream to support “progressive” Yemenite opposition groups with the aim of toppling the regime. This foreshadowed the military intervention that commenced in September 1962, following the Imam’s death and the military coup instigated by Yemenite officers. Egypt’s Arab policy, however, concentrated on the Syrian scene. To prevent an offensive, in mid-January 1962 the Syrian government secretly sent a mili­ tary delegation to Cairo to negotiate an Egyptian-Syrian truce. According to Syrian sources, the officers offered an agreement on the following issues: cessation of the Egyptian propaganda campaign; restoration of diplomatic relations; conclusion of a military pact against Israel; and return of Syrian arms taken during the union.28 On the other hand, Egyptian sources claimed that the military delegation came to negotiate the re-establishment of the union. According to Heikal, ‘Abd al-Nasir opposed such a proposition so long as the “traitorous” triumvirate of Dawalibi-Kuzbari-Qudsi remained in power, and so long as “reaction” controlled the Syrian government.29When the talks ended in a renewed deadlock, Cairo launched a new propaganda campaign aimed at undermining the Syrian regime. This campaign was directed as well against the Iraqi-Syrian rapprochement, which was considered a threat to Egypt.30 The fact that ‘Abd al-Nasir still had not relinquished the idea of some asso­ ciation with Syria was clearly reflected in his Unity Day speech of 22 February 1962. Instead of ignoring the date, he decided to hold, in the words of the Canadian ambassador, a “monster rally.” Commemorating the UAR fourth anniversary, he reminded his listeners that this speech had previously been delivered from Damascus. While he was attacking the Syrian rulers, cries from the crowd were heard calling for Damascus to revolt. Less explicit than his audi­ ence, ‘Abd al-Nasir stated that “the people’s voice in Syria today is not raised to express the people’s will. No one can suppress the people or stifle their voices forever. We, brethren, extend our hands to all those whom we used to meet on such days there in Syria.”31 The following day, the Cairo press was full of lurid, yet fabricated, accounts of large-scale demonstrations in Damascus supporting the restoration of the UAR.32

The Aleppo Insurrection The military coup of March-April 1962 constituted the most serious attempt to reverse the course of events in Syria. On 25 March, Dawalibi resigned under pressure from the army and from certain politicians for his right-wing con­ servative policies. Perhaps the Israeli raid on Nuqaib, on the shores of Lake Tiberias, on the night of 16-17 March 1962, in which thirty soldiers were killed, precipitated the government’s downfall.33 Since President Qudsi was unwilling 165

The End o f a Dream to dissolve the assembly and call for elections, according to army demands, during the night of 27-28 March, the army seized power and decreed the disso­ lution of the chamber. This move led Qudsi to tender his resignation. The instigators of the coup - the same officers who carried out the September 1961 takeover - claimed that the government had deviated from the principles of the former revolution. Representing many officers from the lower middle classes, the insurgents were inclined to identify with Arab socialism. Most likely their action was influenced by Egyptian propaganda, claiming that “reactionaries, feudalists and capitalists” had returned to government in order “to feather their own nests.”34 On 31 March, the army apparently felt sufficiently assured to relax most of the restrictions imposed during the previous three days. Yet no civilian cabinet was formed because no experienced politicians were willing to accept the army’s conditions, and because of its internal divisions. This delicate situation led all military faction leaders, as well as several civilian politicians, to hold a conference at Homs on the night of 31 M arch-1 April. Following a stormy meeting, several secret decisions were adopted: (1) to exile the insurgent officers; (2) to return to constitutional life, reinstate Qudsi as president and form a transitional civilian cabinet; (3) to hold new elections and a plebiscite on the question of union with Egypt; (4) to reshuffle the power groups in high command so as to reflect the views of younger Nasirist officers; (5) to revise nationalization and agrarian reform laws back toward UAR origins; and (6) to ensure the submission of the Aleppo command to these decisions and the cessa­ tion of pro-Nasir announcements from the Aleppo radio.35 The last demand came in response to disturbances in Aleppo, which had begun in the early morning of 1 April. Well-organized pro-Nasir demonstra­ tions were held with the support of army and police. A group of demonstrators called on foreign consulates to recognize the restoration to the UAR. The next day, some dissident officers, headed by Colonel Jasim ‘Alwan - former head of the military intelligence in Aleppo, who had retired because of pro-Nasir sentiments - seized control of the Aleppo garrison. Radio Aleppo became “the radio station of the UAR,” announcing its restoration. Demonstrators roamed the city forcing shops, hotels, and public buildings to display photographs of ‘Abd al-Nasir and UAR flags. A few officers loyal to Damascus were killed during the skirmishes. On the morning of 3 April, the radio station made un­ successful appeals to Cairo to send military assistance. By mid-day, however, the station went off the air; army units from Hama took over the city and quelled the rebellion. There are indications that Jordanian forces were prepared to inter­ vene upon a request from the Syrian chief-of-staff.36 In the evening, Radio Damascus announced that Aleppo had surrendered without bloodshed and that the “traitors” had fled. By 6 April, life in Aleppo returned normal.37 166

The End o f a Dream There was little doubt in Syria that well-organized apparatus financed from Cairo was responsible for the Aleppo insurrection. Indeed, there are reports that an Egyptian network in Beirut and Cairo was responsible for igniting the demonstrations.38 British military sources reported that Egyptian agents were sent from northern Lebanon to assist the rebels.39 Syrian officials claimed that Syrians trained in sabotage and subversion had been sent from Lebanon to Aleppo.40 Moreover, there were persistent rumors that the US consul-general in Aleppo “aided, abetted and supported” the rebels by distributing money and pictures of ‘Abd al-Nasir in Aleppo.41 Egyptian propaganda, and perhaps some clandestine activity, certainly contributed to the Aleppo revolt. Bar-Siman-Tov went so far as to assert that the connections between Egypt and the Aleppo insurgents “revealed a set of patron-client relations.” In his opinion, “it seems virtually certain that the linkage groups relied upon direct Egyptian military intervention, should the need arise. This belief may well have been based on Egyptian promises.”42 These speculations cannot be verified. In any case, it seems that the demon­ strators showed a degree of spontaneous fervor. It was no coincidence that pro-UAR riots occurred in Aleppo; this was the area where UAR reforms in favor of peasants and industrial workers had their greatest effect, because of the concentration of industry in Aleppo and the acuteness of the landholding problem in northern Syria.43 Organized by pro-Nasirist officers, the riots included workers from the electricity and transport union, as well as the tobacco and textile plants, who were dissatisfied with Syria’s conservative policies.44 Yet the Aleppo insurgents constituted only a small faction. Moreover, Van Dam maintained that Ba‘th officers participating in the revolt withdrew their support once they heard ‘Alwan’s declaration that Syria constituted part of the UAR.4S Apparently, vivid memories of the old UAR still lingered, and the Ba‘th officers were unwilling to surrender Syria’s independence and jeopardize their own position once more.46The failure of the insurrection demonstrated that although there was still some yearning for the UAR in Syria, the idea was no longer viable. It is difficult to establish how ‘Abd al-Nasir reacted to the Aleppo uprising. In his conversations with foreign officials he emphasized two points: he was not seeking territorial union although he might receive offers as he had from Syria in 1958;47 and he had decided to pursue Arab unity by appealing to the people and over the Arab governments.48 During the Aleppo rebellion, Foreign Minister Fawzi told Badeau that his government had “no ambitions in Syria,” adding that although Egypt would not shirk “legitimate responsibilities” in the Arab world, they would only be accepted if “thrust upon us.” Fawzi, however, did not envisage the UAR re-establishment since “things seldom happen again in history.”49 Following the uprising, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s conversations with 167

The End o f a Dream foreign envoys did not reveal any enthusiasm about reconstituting the union.50 It is possible that he waited that Syria would be handed to him on a silver platter. This did not mean, however, that he sought the UAR restoration. He might have thought in terms of some loose association over which his supremacy would be widely acknowledged. A new Syrian cabinet headed by Bashir al-‘Azmah was formed on 16 April 1962. A physician from a respected Damascene family and a former UAR minister, ‘Azmah modified the economic policy of the previous cabinet, which had been a major cause of the military coup. He re-nationalized alSharika al-Kumasiyya and re-instated the Agrarian Reform Law in its original form (for details, see chapter 4). Since relations with Egypt constituted a sensitive issue, ‘Azmah set up a committee to study the question of Arab unity and define what form such unity might take. President Qudsi shared ‘Azmah’s opinion that a “good majority of Syrians desire [a] federal bond with Egypt short of full union.” He realized, however, that any association “would be fought tooth and nail by wealthy rightist elements who still hold considerable power.”51 Meanwhile in May 1962, the Ba‘th National Command, under ‘Aflaq’s guidance, published a new program that called for a federal union (wahda ittihadiyya) between Syria and Egypt. The formation of the secessionist regime, endorsed by two leading Ba‘thists - Bitar and Hourani (the former later regretted it) - only exacerbated the difficulties within the party, dividing it into several factions. The new project, as Rabinovich put it, “placed the Ba‘th in the middle-of-the-road position, rejecting both secessionism and precipitate return to a union.”52 While the Ba‘th program might have indicated that the unionist tide was still flourishing, in fact it signaled a retreat from the unity ideal and a recognition in the existence of separate identities. Sati‘ al-Husri asserted that “the program reinforces regionalism” (iqlimiyya), accusing the Ba‘th of main­ taining a “mentality of separatism” ( ‘aqliyat al-tajzi'a).53 The Ba‘th program, as well as the inactivity of committee on Arab unity, led ‘Azmah to break the stalemate in Egyptian-Syrian relations. On 6 June 1962, he made a bold declaration of intent to open talks with Cairo on reunification of Syria and Egypt as the nucleus of a larger union. Citing three schools of thought on this issue - separation, restoration of the UAR, and federation - he asserted that most Syrians, including his cabinet, favored federation on a demo­ cratic basis. “Re-discussion of union with Egypt,” he concluded, “is a national necessity.”54He hoped that this new position would elicit a response from ‘Abd al-Nasir, who had “sullenly and steadfastly refused any contacts with Syria.” To the American ambassador ‘Azmah expressed the hope that ‘Abd al-Nasir would abandon his present “sphinx-like posture” and “all-or-nothing” attitude, and instead enter a dialogue on the future of Egyptian-Syrian relations. ‘Azmah 168

The End o f a Dream asked the US to convey this message to its ambassador in Cairo, so that the latter might update ‘Abd al-Nasir on the change in Syria’s position.55 On the Egyptian side, ‘Azmah’s statement met scorn and skepticism.56 On the Syrian side, it opened old wounds and intensified polarization between unionists and separatists.57 The movement toward Cairo was too rapid for the Syrian army: on 13 June, it began seizing at border points Egyptian and Lebanese newspapers whose entry had been authorized by the cabinet only a week earlier. Moreover, politicians supporting Syrian separatism closed ranks with the aim of bringing down the cabinet.58 Under this pressure,4Azmah was compelled to moderate his position, as reflected in his press conference of 23 June 1962.59 In addition, in July he arrested leading Nasirist agitators and one hundred allegedly pro-Nasirist officers were dismissed. Following these measures, the US ambassador concluded that the “unionist tide which flooded Syria last April has now run its course.“60In the new atmosphere, a Syrian news­ paper was bold enough to proclaim: “We Are Secessionists.”61

The Shtura Meeting Syrian-Egyptian relations further deteriorated during the summer of 1962 because of three developments. First, several mysterious explosions in Damascus, Homs and Hama during July were attributed to clandestine Egyptian activities.62 Second, on 22 July, the tenth anniversary of Egypt’s Revolution, ‘Abd al-Nasir made an allegedly “aggressive” speech, in which he referred to Syria as part of the UAR.63 Third, on the night of 28 July 1962, a plot by some pro-Nasirist officers was uncovered. The Egyptian embassy in Beirut was reportedly responsible for the transfer of arms, money and explosives to groups in Syria.64 Consequently, on 30 July, Syria lodged a formal complaint with the Arab League against Egypt’s “flagrant interference” in Syria’s domestic affairs. Syria hoped, thereby, to elicit a resolution confirming its independence and underlining the League’s principles of non-intervention in internal Arab affairs.65 The discussion of the Syrian complaint at the League meeting, held at the Lebanese town of Shtura on 22-30 August, led to a confrontation between Egypt and Syria and almost brought the League to the point of collapse. The League’s Secretary-General, ‘Abd al-Haliq Hassouna, acknowledged that the Shtura meeting “constituted one of the most serious crises in the history of the League.”66 As a sign of protest, the Egyptian delegation was headed by Akram al-Dayri and Jadu Tzz al-Din, Syrian officers and former UAR ministers who had settled in Cairo following the secession. Syria’s delegation, for its part, included Khalil Kallas, Amin al-Nafuri and ‘Abd al-Ghani Qannut, dis­ 169

The End o f a Dream illusioned UAR ministers who had resigned in late 1959 and early 1960 in protest against ‘Abd al-Nasir’s policies.67 In the opening session, the Syrian delegation officially submitted the complaint file including several statements that accused Egypt of acts of sedition and sabotage against Syria, as well as documents, photographs, tape recordings, newspaper clippings, and transcripts of radio broadcasts supposedly substantiating these accusations.68 During the deliberations, Kallas and Nafuri, on the Syrian side, and Dayri and ‘Izz al-Din, on the Egyptian side - all former Syrian officials in the UAR - traded accusations about responsibility for the mistakes made during the union. In a particularly long speech, Kallas accused ‘Abd al-Nasir of treating the Arab states as Egypt’s Lebensraum, of imposing a socialist economy unsuitable to Syrian conditions, and of attempting to nullify the Palestine issue. Thus the UAR, averred Kallas, had dealt a disastrous blow to the whole concept of Arab unity. In response to Egypt’s attacks on Syria’s “separatist regime,’’ Kallas responded that “unity existed before the Nasirite union, and unity will return after the Nasirite union. Yet the Nasirite union will remain in Arab history the blackest secessionist period, and ‘Abd al-Nasir himself will remain the most notorious secessionist the Arab nation has known.”69 Nafuri’s speech described Egyptian efforts at weakening and dominating the Syrian army. He charged that 2,300 Egyptian officers had been transferred to Syria, 500 Syrian officers to Cairo, and 1,100 Syrian officers dismissed. In addition, he claimed that the Syrian airforce’s flight school at Homs had been unnecessarily transferred to Egypt, and that Egypt had confiscated Syrian mili­ tary equipment with no compensation.70 Egypt’s behavior during the union became a major bone of contention between the Syrian and Egyptian delegations. The Syrian delegation was more intent, however, on describing Egypt’s current subversive activity against Syria, which allegedly included the instigation of Lebanese refugees to fabri­ cate a Syrian operation to blow up the Egyptian embassy in Beirut; the incitement of Iraqi refugees to plot against Syria; the dispatch of infiltrators from Lebanon to set off explosives in Damascus; and a plot to assassinate Syrian officers. All these accusations were supported by allegedly authentic documents attesting to Egypt’s desire to destabilize Syria.71 The Egyptian delegation was probably surprised at the organized nature of the Syrian attack. Dayri’s response was, therefore, apologetic and un­ convincing.72 Encircled by delegates from “conservative” states like Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia, the Egyptian delegation must have felt isolated at Shtura. Its uneasiness was further exacerbated by the defection to Syria of the Egyptian military attaché in Beirut on 28 August 1962. The Egyptians feared that he might have carried with him documents further exposing clandestine 170

The End o f a Dream UAR activities in Syria.73 On the same day, Dayri announced Egypt’s with­ drawal from the meeting because of Syria’s “slanderous accusations.” He asserted that unless the League “defines its frank and clear opinion about the travesty of vilification and abuse which has been enacted on its platform, then the UAR decides to withdraw from the Arab League.”74 Moreover, Cairo announced its intention to form a “League of Arab Peoples” consisting of intel­ lectuals, students and trade unions from Arab countries.75 Unable to continue the deliberations about the Syrian complaint, Hassouna adjourned the meeting. The semi-official Egyptian organ al-Jumhuriyya imme­ diately rejoiced, concluding that the League “has never been, is not now, and never will be - if it maintains its present state - an effective instrument or solid basis for the Arab battle for the future.”76 Hassouna’s resolution was followed by hectic Arab mediation attempts, especially by Lebanese President Shihab, that brought two important developments: the new Syrian cabinet of Khalid al‘Azm (see below) was compelled to withdraw the complaint; and despite initial Arab opposition, the Egyptian-born League secretary-general was re-appointed for another five-year term.77 Although ‘Abd al-Nasir demonstrated his political skills at the Shtura meeting, the idea of Arab unity suffered another serious blow. In contrast to Syria’s expectations, the results of the meeting further weakened the shaky legitimacy of its regime. On 17 September 1962, ‘Azm formed a new cabinet, the fifth since Syria’s secession from the UAR. In spite of various measures by ‘Azm’s government against pro-Nasirist elements, instability continued to plague the Syrian regime throughout the year. Yet it was events in Iraq that eventually triggered the downfall of the “secessionist regime.”

The Cairo Tripartite Talks and Beyond On 8 February 1963, following a bloody military coup, Qasim was killed and a Ba‘th regime headed by ‘Abd al-Salam ‘Arif was established in Iraq.78 The coup led to an immediate Egyptian-Iraqi rapprochement. On 22 February, an Iraqi delegation visited Cairo to attend celebrations marking the fifth anni­ versary of the UAR.79 Since, Rabinovich observed, the Iraqi Ba‘th regime was considered a unionist if not a Nasirist force, “the prevailing feeling was that the Separatist Regime in Syria had been encircled.”80 Indeed, on 8 March, a mili­ tary coup led to the establishment of a Ba‘th regime in Syria as well. A National Revolutionary Command Council (NRCC) of obscure officers and civilians assumed sovereign powers, and appointed a Ba‘th-led cabinet headed by the veteran leader Salah al-Din al-Bitar. For the first time since secession, ‘Abd alNasir was willing to extend recognition to the new Syrian regime.81 171

The End o f a Dream The emergence of Ba‘th regimes in both Syria and Iraq that suffered from lack of domestic legitimacy helped revive the concept of Arab unity. But having learned the lessons of the UAR, the Syrian Ba‘th, especially after finally succeeding to gain control over Syria, was unwilling to accept full union with Egypt. However, the Ba‘th was anxious to receive ‘Abd al-Nasir’s blessing because it would bestow legitimacy on the separate Syrian state. This, remarked Rabinovich, would make the Ba‘th a respectable partner in inter-Arab politics and satisfy a deep emotional and ideological need.82 Being a symbol and recog­ nized leader of the Arab nationalist movement, it was thought that ‘Abd al-Nasir could not refuse any Arab overture aimed at fulfilling this noble dream. These considerations led to Egyptian-Syrian-Iraqi consultations, called the Cairo Unity Talks, which were held in three stages between 14 March and 17 April 1963. To analyze the proceedings of the Unity Talks, which were published by Cairo in June, is beyond the scope of this study.83 The protocols, however, shed light on an important episode in Arab politics and offer signifi­ cant information about the UAR. A careful reading of the minutes tends to confirm Rabinovich’s assertion that “it was not unity and union proper that were on the minds of most of the negotiators.”84 On 17 April, following lengthy debates, the participants agreed to form a loose federal union. Under Syrian and Iraqi demands, ‘Abd al-Nasir agreed to a five-month delay before it would be proclaimed, and a further transition period of twenty months before its consti­ tution would take effect.83 Both Syria and Iraq immediately adopted a new flag with three stars repre­ senting the federation; Egypt still flew the two-star UAR flag. Syria and Iraq’s gesture, however, was only symbolic; the immediate euphoria that swept Arab opinion, as Kerr pointed out, was based on very little substance. The agreement was unable to assure the future, and it concealed a most unpromising present.86 In more concrete terms, the agreement failed because of the lack of confidence betw een4Abd al-Nasir and the Ba‘th leaders - a direct result of the bitter legacy of the UAR. Furthermore, in contrast to the veteran Ba‘th leadership of ‘Aflaq and Bitar, the younger generation was less committed to Arab unity, more suspicious of ‘Abd al-Nasir, and wary about sharing power with him. Only two weeks after the signing of the Cairo agreement, the EgyptianSyrian propaganda war resumed in full force. The immediate cause was the Ba‘th purge of unionist - or rather, Nasirist - officers from the Syrian army. The final break occurred on 18 July 1963, following a bloody coup that led to the killing and execution of many Nasirist officers in Syria. After that, “the dialogue between ‘Abd al-Nasir and the Ba‘th that had begun with the Cairo talks was finished.”87 The split was clearly reflected in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s Revolution Day speech (22 July 1963), exclusively devoted to a scathing denunciation of the Ba‘th. Declaring that Egypt had nothing in common with 172

The End o f a Dream “the present fascist regime in Syria,” the Egyptian president announced his withdrawal from the Cairo agreement. In his concluding remarks,4Abd al-Nasir attempted to confer a new meaning on the concept of Arab unity: A natural, legitimate union is assured and inevitable, but this also requires that we analyze its rationale. We previously believed that progressive Arab revolutions render union probable. But nowadays the concept of Union is itself in crisis. I am beginning to feel that political revolutions do not automatically entail a union. Witness the case of ‘Abd al-Karim Qasim, later to be followed by the Ba4th. Deviation, selfishness and spite have been the result of these revolutions . . . In the past we stated that we would cooperate with all nationalist groups or organ­ izations. But we have now been proved wrong. This kind of multiplicity of nationalist activities seems to lead us to clashes . . . We must therefore begin to look ahead into the future and draw the proper lesson from these events. The future must be viewed in a new light. While every Arab country boasts a party, union seems utterly impossible. True political opposition would degenerate into regionalism, with Syria at odds with Egypt, Iraq at odds with Syria, and so forth. For union to emerge, and for all immoral opportunist obstacles to be overcome, we must launch a unified Arab Nationalist movement that would incorporate all the nationalist movements of the Arab world.**

In January 1964, ‘Abd al-Nasir hosted the first summit of Arab kings and presidents. This new mechanism in Arab politics only reaffirmed that the chasm between the Arab leaders was deep and that the notion of the Arab State superseded the pan-Arab ideology. The signing of the Arab Solidarity Charter at the Casablanca Summit in September 1965 confirmed this trend. The Arab signatories pledged to respect the sovereignty of the Arab states, to refrain from interference in their domestic affairs, and to preserve the rules and norms of the political game according to the principles of international law and custom.*9 Although these principles would often be violated by Arab rulers, the opening of the era of Arab summitry meant that the vision of Arab unity largely receded from the realm of actual political programs and moved into the sphere of messianic hopes.


In February 1958, when a plebiscite on the union took place, Sati* al-Husri, the most important thinker of pan-Arabism, held a meeting with Arab intellectuals who expressed skepticism at the chances of the UAR. To the question o f whether the union had been established prematurely, Husri replied that since the union had long been expected in the Arab world, it could hardly be described as premature. The participants then raised doubts as to the chances of survival for a union between two peoples with such cultural and economic differences, as well as geographic barriers. Husri responded that the differences within Egypt itself, for example between Cairo and Aswan, did not undermine the Egyptian state. He also dismissed the geographical factor: Greece, Pakistan and Indonesia were all states composed of various disconnected parts. The union, Husri concluded, was “natural” because of the linguistic bonds between Egypt and Syria, and the fact that historically the two states had already been united during the Ayyubid and Mamluk periods.1 Husri’s statements are illuminating because they reveal that the basic obsta­ cles to Egyptian-Syrian union did not pass unnoticed, at least not by certain Arab intellectuals. Yet we can safely assume that this discussion was rather exceptional; for the most part, Arab leaders, intellectuals, journalists, and especially the masses were swept by the wave of enthusiasm that engulfed the Arab world in early 1958. At this moment of excitement, all apparent difficul­ ties were forgotten, dismissed, or repudiated. Most of the Arab intellectuals, if not praising ‘Abd al-Nasir and the union altogether, remained silent.2 But the objective difficulties did not disappear; as soon as the dust had settled, they re­ appeared with greater intensity. Two recent studies referred to the formation of the UAR and to the pan-Arab movement as mistakes. Malik Mufti argued that the union was “the unintended product of a series of blunders by Syria’s top political leadership,” concluding that the UAR “was simply a mistake.”3 At the same time, Martin Kramer, discussing the history of the Arab nationalist movement, asserted that “it is an account of how millions of people imagined themselves to be Arabs and then, 174

Conclusions as though in a case of mistaken identity, claimed to have been someone else all along.”4 As the preceding chapters have shown, these arguments are not borne out by the facts presented. In passing judgment on past events, historians often assess them in light of the present, thereby neglecting or downplaying the context in which the events occurred. However, it would be fair to regard the UAR and pan-Arabism as “mistakes” only if they had been perceived as such in their own time, and not merely in hindsight.1 Such an approach tends to assume that historical occur­ rences are intelligible in light of the circumstances prevailing at the time. Yet the historian should be careful, as Herbert Butterfield lucidly remarked, not “to over-step the bounds of his subject and elicit from history more than history can really give.” Otherwise, Butterfield warned, the historian is “forever tempted to bring his stories to conclusiveness and his judgments to a finality that are not warranted by either the materials or the processes of his research.”6 In creating and administering the UAR, Egyptian and Syrian leaders made certain mistakes along the way. Yet the very establishment of the union was an intelligible outcome of certain long- and short-term processes. A unique combination of factors made both leaders and people think that the union was appropriate at that particular historic juncture. “ The formation of the union,” asserted Albert Hourani in May 1958, “was in a sense a political maneuver, but it could only have been effective because behind it lay a system of ideas commanding wide acceptance.”7 Written while events were still unfolding, Hourani’s assessment shows considerable insight. Indeed, the UAR experiment cannot be divorced from its historical pan-Arab context, an ideology that by the late 1950s had existed for almost half a century. Husri’s and other Arab intellectuals’ calls to erase the boundaries imposed by Western imperialism and to create a unified Arab state struck a responsive chord among the masses. The fact that most Arab leaders needed to pay at least lip service to this idea showed that pan-Arabism was alive and influential. This ideology not only offered an alternative identity but elevated the discredited image of the Arabs vis-à-vis the West, promising them a better future. Thus, it seems that Mufti’s assertion that “pan-Arab ideology always ended up as hand­ maiden to political expediency”8 seems too harsh; this ideology reflected and expressed the Zeitgeist of the period, and as such it played an important role in the process that led to the establishment of the UAR. The existence of such a powerful ideology was a necessary, but not sufficient, cause for the formation of the UAR. From the Syrian point of view, two long-term factors led to the formation of the union. The absence of a clear and legitimate Syrian identity and the instability of the Syrian polity were two interrelated factors that turned Syria into the kernel around which Arab unity schemes concentrated. The artificial boundaries created after the First World 175

Conclusions War, exacerbated by the French Mandate’s divisive policies, made it difficult to establish a cohesive Syrian political community. Thus, all Syrian govern­ ments suffered from lack of legitimacy, which inevitably weakened the process of state building. In addition, the paucity of political, military and economic capabilities led the weak Syrian State to search for an association with a stronger Arab state. “All Arab politicians pay lip-service to Arab unity,’’ wrote Hourani, “but [only] Syria has made it a practical issue, by being the first country to give up anything substantial for it.”9 Yet, lacking a clear self-identity and suffering from chronic instability, perhaps Syria did not have to sacrifice anything substantial. Although geographical proximity and economic interests made Iraq a more logical partner for unification with Syria, ideological and political considerations made Syrian leaders more prone to unite with ‘Abd alNasir’s Egypt. By uniting with Egypt, Syria could gain a distinguished Arab identity and a more stable regime. The existence of these trends, however, was not enough to create the UAR. After all, vague identity and precarious stability also characterized the regimes in Jordan, Iraq, Lebanon, as well as other Arab states. From a Syrian point of view, the union was realized when four immediate causes coalesced. First, the existence of a Soviet-communist threat - whether real or imaginary - to the regime, magnified by Western propaganda, convinced many that Syria was on the verge of becoming a Soviet satellite; the union, therefore, was to save Syria from that fate. Second, a new counter-élite, comprised of army officers and Ba‘th Party members, challenged the position of the old conservative élite, made up of the landed oligarchy and wealthy merchants. Unable to attain power through the political system, the Ba’th saw the union as an alternative means to do so. Third, the army initiated the venture once its competing factions realized that no single group was capable of dominating the political system. Fourth, the old élite, which was not consulted in advance by the army or the Ba‘th, accepted the union as the lesser evil in light of the circumstances prevailing in Syria. Soviet involvement, Ba‘th domination, or military takeover were all possible scenarios that threatened to undermine the old élite’s power base. Moreover, it could not openly oppose the union since it had long espoused the doctrine of pan-Arabism. For the old élite this ideology, Khoury concluded, had not been a destructive force but rather “the best available weapon to defend its interests.” 10 Although this might have been particularly true during the French Mandate, in the late 1950s this group could not oppose an idea it had been promoting for more than three decades. Moreover, the union could offer some tangible advantages to the industrial and commercial segments of the old élite, which might benefit economically from a merger with the larger Egyptian market. Thus, all segments of the Syrian élite supported the formation of some 176

Conclusions association with Egypt though for different, even contradictory, reasons - a development facilitated by the strong appeal of pan-Arabism. Once the various groups of the élite became convinced that an association with Egypt was the remedy for Syria’s problems, only one question remained open: what type of association should be preferred? Since the idea of a confed­ eration was never seriously contemplated, federation and union remained two acute alternatives. The Syrian élites almost unanimously opted for a federation, an association that would offer them the advantages of being united with Egypt while keeping the reigns of power in Syria in their hands. However, once they realized that ‘Abd al-Nasir was not willing to accept less than a full merger, they succumbed to his demand. The union, therefore, was not a mistake; indeed, the union was not their preferable option, but between the choices of unifica­ tion and maintaining the status quo, they preferred the former. Most probably, two important segments of the élite - the Ba‘th and the army - deluded them­ selves into thinking that they would enjoy a privileged position in the new entity. Beyond all these calculated motives, there was the psychological appeal of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s charismatic leadership. While there is no way of measuring the level or impact of this phenomenon, there is no doubt that it played a crucial role in the formation of the UAR. ‘Abd al-Nasir played an important role in disseminating the pan-Arab ideology and in inflaming the masses in his speeches - a development that affected Arab leaders as well. His image person­ ified the proud Arab who fearlessly stood up to Western imperialism. Though this heroic image was too simplistic, it attracted Arab leaders who hoped that by associating themselves with him some of his invincible aura would radiate and strengthen their shaky legitimacy. In short, the appearance of a strong personality at that particular historical juncture facilitated the formation of the UAR. Egypt’s incentives to unite were different. Arab and Western sources often claim that the union was “forced” on Egypt; this, in particular, is the version of Egyptian historiography." True, Syria was the driving force, but Egypt did not play a passive role in the process that led to the formation of the UAR. As a realist, ‘Abd al-Nasir accurately assessed the risks involved in uniting with Syria, and preferred to proceed cautiously and gradually. Although he primarily utilized pan-Arabism to bolster his position, he gradually became committed to this ideology. Once he realized that he could not deflect the Syrian request without risking a serious blow to his prestige and image, he posed conditions that dovetailed with Egypt’s long-term interests in the Arab world. A complete merger with Syria, he reasoned, would enable him to act freely there without being subject to Syrian whims. It would enable Egypt to be portrayed not only as the Arab “Prussia” realizing the aims and aspirations of Arab nationalists, 177

Conclusions but also to be in a position to acquire Arab hegemony. Such a bold move would constitute the last political nail in Nuri al-Sa‘id’s coffin, ending Iraq’s age-old pretensions to lead the Arab world. Notwithstanding all these considerations, recently declassified documents suggest that the United States played a vital role in the formation of the UAR. One of the lessons that ‘Abd al-Nasir drew from the 1956 Suez Affair was that any revision of the regional status quo would have to be sanctioned by the super­ powers, especially by the US. Only in late 1957, after receiving what might be construed as a green light from the US to operate in Syria, was the Egyptian president confident in his dealings with the Syrians. It is true that neither the US nor ‘Abd al-Nasir initially saw the union as a remedy to Syria’s problems. Both thought of a more limited operation that would bring about the contain­ ment of the alleged Communist threat there. In this respect, defensive considerations motivated ‘Abd al-Nasir; he realized that an unstable regime in Syria, under Communist or Soviet control, would have constituted a challenge, and perhaps a threat, to his leading position in the Arab world. Moreover, Syrian instability might spill over to neighboring Arab states, thus destabilizing the entire Middle East. Once the union was contemplated, the US endorsed it because ‘Abd al-Nasir cleverly portrayed it as the only effective response to the spread of Communism in Syria and the Middle East. The image of the UAR as a bulwark against Communism guaranteed its inauguration. Israel, it should be emphasized, constituted only a minor factor in the formation of the union. Israeli and other Western sources had often viewed the UAR as an evidence for the Arab desire to encircle, and eventually elimin­ ate, Israel. Arab propaganda, as well as certain Arab leaders and intellectuals often strengthened this impression.12 Yet an analysis of Egyptian and Syrian motives before the union indicates that Israel was not a prime consideration. However, there is no doubt that ‘Abd al-Nasir, as well as Syrian leaders, im­ mediately grasped the possible advantages of the union in terms of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In particular, ‘Abd al-Nasir portrayed the UAR as a bulwark against what he perceived as Israel’s desire “to expand from the Euphrates to the Nile Valley” - a motif that had been frequently repeated in his speeches. Even the tension along the Egyptian-Israeli border in February 1960, which involved the clandestine entrance of Egyptian forces into Sinai, was not an act of aggression by ‘Abd al-Nasir against Israel. Rather, it was an attempt to deter a possible Israeli attack on Syria during his visit there on the occasion of the second UAR anniversary.13 Apart from this episode, the UAR-Israeli border remained largely calm. In September 1961, only three and a half years after its formation, a Syrian military coup led to the dissolution of the UAR. There are indications that the rebels did not necessarily seek an outright break-up of the union, but instead 178

Conclusions wished to remedy some of the mistakes and injustices that, in their opinion, had damaged Syria. However, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s harsh - some would say rash response (i.e., his unwillingness to negotiate) led the insurgents to Anally declare Syria’s secession. It is possible that a different response, or a successful military operation against the rebels (attempted but ineptly), could have prolonged the life of union. But in light of the basic difficulties that the UAR faced, it is unlikely that it would have endured in the long run in any case. As explained in the Introduction, the prospects for a lasting union were dim in the first place. Yet certain Egyptian measures improperly applied to the Syrian region, exacerbated by unforeseen conditions of bad weather, doomed the UAR. In analyzing the reasons for the break-up, it will help to make a distinction between political, ideological, foreign, and socioeconomic factors. It should be remembered, however, that the basic underlying cause was that Syrians and Egyptians had different perceptions and expectations of the union. Whereas the Egyptians envisaged a highly integrated and centralized regime, based on the Egyptian model and ensuring Egypt’s hegemony, the Syrians thought of a looser association (i.e., a federation) in which control of the domestic political and economic affairs would largely remain in Syrian hands. In political terms, four major Egyptian errors led to the fall of the UAR. First, all Syrians associated with its creation - especially the Ba‘th civilians and the army officers - were gradually removed from power. Although initially ‘Abd al-Nasir relied on these groups to administer Syria’s own affairs, his desire to integrate the two regions necessitated diminishing the power of the Syrian polit­ ical élite and marginalizing Damascus as a political center. For Egypt, the removal of personalities - particularly those associated with the Ba‘th - was justified in light of their partisanship (or tab'ith, as Syrians derogatorily termed it). By distancing these natural allies without creating an alternative élite, ‘Abd al-Nasir lost his political base in Syria. Yet the Ba‘th defeat in the July 1959 elections and the subsequent resignation of its ministers in December enabled ‘Abd al-Nasir to consolidate his control. Syrian ministers received secondary portfolios in the central government, and decisions affecting Syrian affairs were often made in Cairo. When the political integration was completed in August 1961, there was no local Syrian leadership of stature to back ‘Abd al-Nasir’s policies.14 Reliance on state agencies as substitutes for party activity constituted ‘Abd al-Nasir’s second mistake. Based on the Egyptian model, he immediately abol­ ished the Syrian party system, which had been a prime cause of instability. The first attempts to establish the Syrian branch of the National Union - a mass party organization that had already been founded in Egypt in 1958 - failed. Only in July 1960 did the first General Congress of the NU take place. However, the new party was a conglomerate whose structure and role eluded members and 179

Conclusions laymen alike. It was a poor substitute for the rather lively political system that had existed in Syria in the pre-1958 period. During the 1963 unity talks, ‘Abd al-Nasir admitted that disbanding all parties had been a mistake since it left a political vacuum that was not filled by the NU.1S Upon the completion of its structure, a docile National Assembly was established, its Syrian and Egyptian delegates carefully chosen. Not surprisingly, this institution, too, became a mere rubber stamp for the regime’s policies. A third mistake was the increasing Egyptian involvement in Syrian internal affairs, which was a logical consequence of Egypt’s desire to fully integrate the two regions. The Syrian army was immediately detached from politics since it constituted one of the main causes of instability. Yet when leading officers who turned into civilian ministers followed the Ba’th and resigned, this weakened the power base of the regime.16 Moreover, Syrian officers resented being subordinated to Egyptian officers, which was often accompanied by patronizing behavior. They also opposed the policy of transferring Syrian officers to the Egyptian region, regarding it as an exile. At the same time, Syrians complained of Egyptian domination of the Syrian civil service. These accusations, however, seem exaggerated; the number of Egyptians serving in Syria was smaller than the figures reported by the Syrians. Moreover, many Egyptians came to work in newly developing fields where skilled professionals were lacking and their salaries were paid by the Egyptian treasury. Still, Syrians often referred to Egyptian behavior in disparaging terms that had hitherto been used only in regard to the West: “domination” (tasallut), “hegemony” (haymana), and “imperialism/colonialism” (isti'imar). The fourth Egyptian mistake was the creation of a formidable security apparatus that virtually turned Syria into a police state. No less than four intel­ ligence organizations operated in Syria, most of them under the supervision of Sarraj, who became a most hated person. It is true that in the pre-1958 period Syria had hardly enjoyed a democratic system, but at the same time there was no systematic use of censorship, tapping, spying, arrests, and torture. Reportedly, many Syrians emigrated from Syria to Lebanon so as to escape Sarraj’s ruthless methods. Indeed, one of the first measures of the new regime was to dismantle his security apparatus. In ideological terms, the failure to build shared symbols of identity acceler­ ated the UAR disintegration. Egypt’s pan-Arabism, Dekmejian observed, “hardly touched the crucial socioeconomic substructure of society.” In his opinion, ‘Abd al-Nasir attempted “to extend to other Arab lands the Arab Revolution in Egypt, which had not really occurred in his own country.”17The central ministry of national guidance was instructed to strengthen Arab iden­ tity through the publication of books, the re-writing of school textbooks, media propaganda and films. But success was limited; an American official remarked, 180

Conclusions for example, that although in their speeches the leaders referred to the UAR, in private they commonly used the terms “Egypt” and “Syria.”18Tharwat ‘Ukasha, Egyptian Minister of National Guidance, admitted that he was mostly engaged in deepening the Pharaonic heritage and Egypt’s national identity.19At the same time, Taha Husayn, a well-known Egyptian writer who had always been luke­ warm toward Egypt’s Arab identity, asserted after the break-up that in fact “Arab unity was the Syrians’ dream” and that he had never heard this concept “except from the Syrians.”20 Heikal concluded in this regard that the union failed because “the Arab people in Egypt had still not reached the level of absolute readiness for Arab union.”21 Interesting in particular was the assertion of ‘Abd al-Rahm an ‘Azzam, the first Egyptian-born Secretary-General of the Arab League and an ardent supporter of pan-Arabism, that “the Egyptians are basically isolationist by nature” and that “their Pharaonic lineage is deeply embedded.”22 In contrast to Egypt, building a new UAR identity in Syria seemed an easier task because of its long-time attachment to pan-Arabism and the resultant weak­ ness of the local identity. However, Syrians refused to obliterate their own symbols of identity, especially as they realized that the Egyptian identity remained central. The lavish celebrations of the July Revolution always reminded them that the Egyptians perpetuated their own identity even when they joined the UAR. In contrast, all major Syrian holidays were erased from the official calendar.23 The fact that no other Arab state was voluntarily willing to obliterate its own identity and join the union reinforced the Syrian determi­ nation to uphold certain symbols. This trend was exacerbated by the refusal of many intellectuals in both regions to take part in the organized effort of building a UAR identity. Although the period of the union was too short to enable a new UAR identity to be developed, still it seems that there were powerful trends, which would have militated against the evolution of a UAR identity should the union survived longer. A second ideological factor contributing to the collapse was the lack of coherent thought about the structure of the envisaged union. True, two major pan-Arab ideologues, Sati‘ al-Husri and Tzzat Darwaza, not only preached Arab unity but also discussed the various constitutional forms such as those existing in the United States, the Soviet Union, Latin America, Belgium, Switzerland, and India.24 However, the Ba‘th Party, which advocated Arab unity and was the main Syrian force behind the union, had formulated only general principles. Its constitution took an ambiguous position, defining the boundaries of the “Arab fatherland” and asserting that “the regime of the Arab State will be a constitutional parliamentary regime,” its administration based on “a system of decentralization.”25 When the Egyptian-Syrian union was in the offing, Ba‘th writings still said very little about the shape of the union itself. 181

Conclusions As time went on, noted John Devlin, “the party leaders became mesmerized with constructing a unity based largely on harmony in foreign policy, paying little if any attention to the problem of meshing two systems of government.” This neglect, he concluded, “led to serious troubles once union had been achieved.”26 It was only following the break-up of the UAR, when Ba‘th and other Arab theorists explored the lessons of the failure, that they began to discuss the various forms of Arab unity more thoroughly.27 The lack of ideological clarity was further reinforced by the divergent Egyptian and Syrian perceptions of pan-Arabism. All Egyptian pan-Arab thinkers - ‘Abd al-Rahman ‘Azzam, ‘Ali ‘Alluba, ‘Abd al-Qadir Mazini, and Zaki Mubarak - shared a non-egalitarian view that placed Egypt at the center of the Arab world and at the head of the pan-Arab movement. It was a hegemonic concept, based on Egypt’s strategic location, as well as on its polit­ ical and economic interests.28 In contrast, the Syrian concept of pan-Arabism, and that of the Ba‘th in particular, was based on the notion of equality between the various members of the Arab community. Thus, although ‘Abd al-Nasir was evidently familiar with Ba‘th writings, his thinking had been influenced more by Egyptian intellectuals stressing Egypt’s unique history and its envisaged hegemonic role in the Arab world. It is not surprising, therefore, that his Philosophy o f the Revolution basically reflected this traditional Egyptian hegemonic perception. Reinforced by differences in size, wealth, military power and demographic composition, Egypt’s superiority over Syria seemed a foregone conclusion.29 External factors also played a role in the break-up of the union. The most important was Iraq’s refusal to associate itself with the UAR following the July 1958 military coup. The argument that ‘Abd al-Nasir was keen on Iraq’s adher­ ence to the UAR as part of his drive to unify the Arab “circle” under his command is simplistic and probably erroneous. It is a mistake to analyze his policy at the end of the 1950s according to a pamphlet (The Philosophy o f the Revolution), which was written in 1953- 54. Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, an important journalist well acquainted with ‘Abd al-Nasir, described it as “a booklet of a dreaming young man.”30 ‘Abd al-Nasir himself told the New York Times, in response to a question as to whether the Philosophy still represented his view­ point, that “no one can proclaim his leadership or impose it on people.” He refuted the Western allegation that he sought to expand Egypt’s territory with the aim of establishing an Arab empire. Such a desire, he concluded, suited the Roman period or the imperialist adventures, but “now, we are living in the second half of the twentieth century, which is that of principles and view­ points.”31 In light of his formidable problems in Syria, ‘Abd al-Nasir was reluctant to fully unite with Iraq. This does not mean, however, that he was not surprised 182

‘Abd al-Nasir and his Foreigh Minister, Mahmud Fawzi (right), in a moment of humorous relief.

‘Abd al-Nasir proclaiming to the Arab world the dissolution of the UAR (5 October 1961).

'Abd al-Nasir, Quwwatli (right), Hourani (second left), and Sabri al-‘Asali (left) discussing the union.

‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Amir (right) in Moscow, accompanied by Soviet leader Nikita Khruschev.

‘Abd al-Nasir (on the small balcony) addressing a cheering Syrian crowd in Damascus, March 1958.

'Abd al-Nasir and Quwwatli enthusiastically received on the streets of Cairo.

Conclusions by Qasim’s independent position, which opposed any kind of association with the UAR and refused to acknowledge ‘Abd al-Nasir’s leadership. To the Arab masses, Iraq’s adherence to the UAR seemed a logical step. Iraq, however, not only scoffed at the idea of Arab unity but initiated an abusive war-of-words that deteriorated into Egyptian intervention in Iraqi domestic affairs. The mere fact that revolutionary Iraq was reluctant to join the union raised doubts about the wisdom of Syria’s decision to merge with Egypt. Moreover, the animosity between the UAR and other Arab states weakened ‘Abd al-Nasir’s overall legit­ imacy in the Arab world. Thus, in the long run, the fact that only backward Yemen joined the UAR (in a federation called the United Arab States) under­ mined ‘Abd al-Nasir’s pretensions to lead the pan-Arab movement and strengthened Syria’s desire to secede from the UAR. Moreover, the fact that he had constantly been under attack from “conservative” regimes (such as Jordan, Tunisia, and Saudi Arabia) further eroded his pan-Arab credentials. In addition, it is possible that the eruption of the Kuwaiti-Iraqi crisis in late June 1961, in which the UAR became diplomatically and militarily involved, somehow diverted ‘Abd al-Nasir’s attention from the developments in the First (Syrian) Army that led to the coup.32 In socioeconomic terms, several factors contributed to the UAR dis­ integration. First, just as ‘Abd al-Nasir acted to unite the two regions politically, he attempted to integrate the economies in a way which dovetailed more with Egyptian, rather than Syrian, interests. The first drastic step was the application of the Egyptian Agrarian Reform Law to Syria in September 1958. When the law was applied in Egypt immediately after the July 1952 coup, it was aimed at eradicating the political and economic power base of the landed oligarchy. As expected, in Syria this group strongly protested, asserting that in contrast to Egypt’s centralized economy, the law was inappropriate to Syria’s capitalist system. Moreover, the landed aristocracy justifiably claimed that the law had not been adapted to Syria’s peculiar agrarian conditions so that its terms were harsher for landlords in Syria than in Egypt. Still, all the landowning élite’s efforts to modify the terms of the law, except for minor amendments by ‘Amir, failed. Initially, the resentment was not directed against ‘Abd al-Nasir per se, but against the Ba‘th, and in particular against Akram al-Hourani. Through the Ministry of Agrarian Reform, headed by his relative Mustafa Hamdun, Hourani used the ARL to settle scores with the landed aristocracy, especially in the Hama area. The too enthusiastic application of the ARL by the Ba‘th became a main reason for its defeat in the July 1959 elections. Thus, the ARL, which was introduced in the union’s early days, succeeded in alienating a powerful group in the Syrian élite that initially had not opposed the union. The law’s rather slow, ineffective application enabled this group to consolidate its ranks, and 187

Conclusions consequently to play a leading role in the process that led to the break-up of the UAR. The agrarian reform was intended as a prelude to fiscal and monetary reforms. In late 1958, a second major reform was contemplated: the unification of the Egyptian and Syrian currencies into a new one, called the Arab Dinar. Rumors about the forthcoming measure induced panic in the Syrian business class, leading to the devaluation of the Syrian pound and the flight of capital to Lebanon. The hysterical response stemmed not only from the possible adverse effects on the Syrian economy, but also from a psychological objection to obliterate one of the last symbols of Syrian identity. This response compelled the Egyptian authorities to abandon their plan. This incident convinced ‘Abd al-Nasir that in comparison to the political sphere, economic integration would have to be carried out more slowly so as not to alienate the Syrian business community. Still, the recurrent raising by government officials of the issue of unifying the currencies exacerbated the acute economic uncertainty in Syria. A third economic factor contributing to the eventual fall of the UAR was the heavy drought that plagued Syria for three consecutive years. As a result, Syria was not only unable to export wheat and barley but had to meet grain shortages by importing from Egypt and the US. What had been Syria’s main source of foreign income in 1956-57 became a huge burden on its balance of payments in 1958-61. Consequently, the UAR central cabinet had to raise the prices of basic commodities and restrict the import of certain luxury goods. Naturally, these measures caused a noticeable decline in the average Syrian’s standard of living. Interestingly enough, many Syrians blamed the Egyptians for the drought as well; they regarded the success of the first harvest after the break­ up as a sign that the secession was sanctioned by heaven. Egypt’s attempts to transform the Syrian economic system to its advantage constituted a fourth economic factor leading to the end of the union. First, efforts were made to re-direct Syrian trade to the Egyptian market, which meant detaching Syria from its traditional, natural markets in Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq and Turkey. The official data (which is contradictory) indicates a marked decline in Syria’s trade links with its Arab neighbors and an increase in Syrian-Egyptian trade, facilitated by certain tariff arrangements. In reality, however, the change in trade patterns was less significant than the official data suggests because the smuggling of goods into neighboring countries (especially Lebanon) had increased substantially during the union.33 Moreover, there are indications that Syrian businessmen profited more than their Egyptian coun­ terparts from the flow of trade and that many Syrian merchants moved to Egypt.34 Second, Egyptian economists envisaged that within the integrated UAR economy Egypt would be developed as an industrial region while Syrian would become its agricultural base. Although the short duration of the union, 188

Conclusions as well as the drought, undermined these plans, still Egypt was accused of colonizing Syria, exploiting its products, and using it as a market for Egyptian goods - accusations that were not always borne out by reality. A fifth economic factor was the lack of tangible signs that the Syrian region was benefiting economically from the union. In the early days of the union, many five-year plans - for industry, agriculture, communication, and so on were introduced in the Syrian region. Moreover, ‘Abd al-Nasir promised to double the national income within the next ten years. It soon became clear, however, that most of the UAR plans for Syria were in fact old programs recom­ mended by the IBRD in 1955, which were not implemented because of the shortage of money. The current plans faced the same problem: lack of sources (whether private, public, or foreign loans) to finance the envisaged projects. ‘Abd al-Nasir was in particular determined to launch a huge project, similar in magnitude to the Aswan Dam, demonstrating that Syria was benefiting from the union. Convinced that such a project would somehow extricate him from the difficulties, ‘Abd al-Nasir relentlessly asked the US and other Western states for the requisite loans. By June 1961, however, most of the Syrian projects still remained on paper; only a contract was signed with West Germany for financing the Euphrates Dam. Little wonder that frustration over unfulfilled Egyptian promises intensified. Ultimately, the measures introduced in the first half of 1961 constituted the most significant economic factor leading to the break-up. Up to late 1960, the natural hardships of the Syrian economy deterred ‘Abd al-Nasir from imposing new economic reforms. His socialist-type decrees were implemented only in Egypt. In February 1961, however, the Syrian economy reached low ebb. Internal instability led to the large-scale flight of capital to Lebanon, the depreciation of the Syrian pound, and the rapid decline of foreign currency reserves. To arrest these trends, ‘Abd al-Nasir decided to end the fireeconvertibility system of the Syrian pound and to impose heavy restrictions on import. These measures mostly affected the Syrian business community, which until now had been left largely unaffected by the reforms. Thus, in addition to the disgruntled landed oligarchy, ‘Abd al-Nasir now alienated another powerful group in the Syrian élite. Overall, these measures strengthened the anxiety of the Syrian economic élite and intensified the sense of uncertainty. Although Egyptian officials promised that no further economic reforms were in the offing, the Syrian public remained suspicious. Indeed, in July 1961, a spate of decrees nationalized most of the private companies in both regions. The measures constituted a revolu­ tion in Syria: 75 companies were nationalized and 79 firms had half of their shares confiscated. Besides all the banks and insurance companies, a number of industrial enterprises were nationalized, including the conglomerate of the 189

Conclusions Company of Five. Thus, this set of decrees alienated the third component of the economic élite: the industrialists and other capitalist entrepreneurs. It should be emphasized, however, that Syrian (as well as Egyptian) workers would have greatly benefited from the new social decrees that accompanied the national­ ization measures, but they remained suspicious and apprehensive of Egyptian aims. The economic and political measures of July-August 1961 further alienated the major power groups. After three and a half years of frustration, it is no wonder that a change of regime was contemplated. As Amitai Etzioni put it, “after all Syria was a partner to the union. . . not a country that lost a war against Egypt.’’33 This frustration fostered a temporary, unique alliance between the various components of the Syrian élite: the landed oligarchy, the business community, the industrialists, the army, and the Ba’th. The existence of such a wide coalition, fortified by family and patronage links, led to the military coup of September 1961. Thus, while the formation of the UAR was a product of Syrian intra-élite rivalries, the break-up resulted from Egyptian-Syrian interélite rivalries. Although the masses remained largely passive, there is no doubt that they supported the coup as well. The economic instability, the restrictive political climate and the decline in their standard of living were all blamed upon Egypt. A change of regime through a coup, therefore, could offer a brighter future for these disgruntled people. Historically, it is more than a coincidence that certain parallels may be drawn between the UAR voluntary experience and Egyptian occupation of Syria in 1831-40. In analyzing the latter’s episode, Tibawi concluded that the major Egyptian mistake was “Muhammad ‘Ali’s obstinacy in applying in Syria measures he had easily applied in Egypt: monopolies, heavy taxation, and above all disarmament and conscription.”36 Though details vary, there is no doubt that ‘Abd al-Nasir unconsciously repeated some of the mistakes, which emanated from a deep sense of Egyptian superiority over the Syrian neighbor. More concretely, four parallels may be drawn between the two episodes: First, Egypt attempted to undermine the position of the local leadership and establish its officials or proxies as the sole authority in the Syrian region. Second, it attempted to exploit Syria as an agricultural base and as a source for raw materials. Third, it exercised authority over the Syrian region through harsh methods. Finally, since Syria became a burden on the Egyptian treasury, its eventual secession (whether by political or military means) was accepted with some relief in Egypt.37 Forty years after the formation of the UAR, it is possible to reassess the impact of the union on the Arab world, Egypt, and Syria. Following the secession, both Arab and foreign observers expected that the break-up would seriously harm the future of pan-Arabism, as well as ‘Abd al-Nasir’s prestige.38 190

Conclusions Interestingly enough, the term “Arab unity” appeared in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches during 1961-63 almost twice as much as in the period 1958-61.39 These figures, however, only indicate that the Egyptian president attempted to compensate for his political loss by an extensive use of ideological rhetoric. Fouad Ajami claimed that the retreat of pan-Arabism began after the 1967 War,40 yet, this study clearly shows that the decline of Arab unity commenced with the fall of the UAR. Its spectacular collapse meant that such a union would never again be resurrected. Moreover, the devastating experience undermined other forms of association because so long as ‘Abd al-Nasir remained in power Arab leaders would remain suspicious of his motives, fearing a repetition of the UAR. In the words of Cecil Hourani, Arab unity became for its adherents “a mirage: attractive so long as it is at a distance, but never to be approached too closely.”41 Indeed, the following decades saw the implementation of several federation plans, but all were disingenuous and quick to disintegrate. More important, the new projects would never evoke hopes and aspirations among the Arab public like those that had accompanied the birth of the UAR. It should be emphasized, however, that while pan-Arabism as a political force had been declining, functionally it has retained its spiritual and cultural roles in the Arab world.42 In contrast to the devastating impact of the break-up on the future of panArabism, ‘Abd al-Nasir managed to reassert his leadership. Observers overstated the blow to his stature; the US ambassador in Cairo John Badeau asserted, for example, that “the aura of invincibility is gone,” and that the “image of Nasser as champion who will lead Arabs to overnight renaissance will never be [the] same again.”43 This image - if it ever existed at all - had already suffered a setback as soon as it became clear that the union faced in­ surmountable problems and that no other Arab state (except Yemen) would join it. To be sure, the fall of the UAR damaged ‘Abd al-Nasir’s prestige in the Arab world; yet by avoiding a military confrontation and recognizing Syria’s inde­ pendence, he showed impressive statesmanship that was applauded in the Arab world. In 1967, for example, Munif Razzaz, a leading Jordanian Ba‘thist, was still of the opinion that ‘Abd al-Nasir “is not a man, but a unique historical phenomena.”44 Indeed, he remained the most formidable Arab leader, and this was reflected in the 1963 Unity Talks and the Arab summit conferences between 1964 and 1967. The fact that other Arab leaders constantly challenged his leadership was not necessarily related to the Syrian secession; such power struggles had been a constant feature of Arab politics since the crystallization of the Arab system. The major blow to ‘Abd al-Nasir’s prestige and image would occur in the wake of the 1967 War. The break-up of the UAR led ‘Abd al-Nasir to search for domestic and foreign compensations. In all likelihood, Egypt’s extensive involvement in 191

Conclusions the Yemen civil war, which broke out in September 1962, was an attempt to somewhat offset the damage of the Syrian secession.43 Supporting the military rebels against the backward Yemeni State - which had been part of the United Arab States - dovetailed with ‘Abd al-Nasir’s declared new policy. The “unity of purpose” (wahdat al-hadaf), aimed at the destruction of “reactionary” regimes (e.g., Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Saudi Arabia), now replaced the “unity of ranks” (wahdat al-saff), which aimed at Arab unity regardless of the type of regime. In general, however, Arab unity was superseded by Arab socialism; the National Charter, promulgated by ‘Abd al-Nasir in May 1962, determined that “the phase of social revolution has surpassed that superficial concept of Arab unity.”47 It is possible that the acceleration of the drift toward socialism coincided with ‘Abd al-Nasir’s determination to demonstrate substantial changes at home following the UAR débâcle. One must emphasize that the union experience did not significantly affect Abd al-Nasir’s position in Egypt. Although he made several moves on the internal and external fronts that were intended to compensate for his loss, there is ample evidence to show that his position at home remained as entrenched as ever. True, the union accelerated existing processes, but it did not unleash new forces or create a new reality. Moreover, the Egyptian public generally remained indifferent to the fall of the UAR. This attitude was hardly surprising in light of the indifference that characterized the behavior of the Egyptian public during the union. This apathetic attitude substantiates the thesis that the Arab consciousness was not deeply ingrained in Egypt, at least in comparison to Syria. The latter’s decision to break away from Egypt did not affect the average Egyptian who continued to grapple with his own daily hardships. In contrast to Egypt, the break-up of the union deeply affected Syria both domestically and externally. The union experience was particularly devastating for the old wealthy élite, which was mainly associated with the People’s and National Parties. During the “secessionist regime” (1961-63), this élite temporarily succeeded to regain power, but its association with “secession” further eroded its legitimacy; this process was exacerbated by Egypt’s virulent propaganda attacks. Despite the old élite’s attempts to promote the cause of Arab unity, it was stigmatized as a wealthy, self-seeking group that worked against Arab unity and the interests of the Syrian people. Thus, its triumph in September 1961 proved short-lived. Although some of the UAR socialist reforms were reversed, this served to further undermine the old élite’s power base. When the Ba‘th seized power in March 1963, the old élite was virtually swept away by a new élite of army officers and Ba‘th officials, many of whom came from rural areas and belonged to the ‘Alawite and Druze minorities. The new élite was radical in its socialist orientation and outspoken in its criticism of Egyptian policies. In short, the UAR episode was highly instrumental in 192

Conclusions shaping Syria’s new generation of power holders. The UAR experience had a profound impact on the structure and ideology of the Ba‘th Party. Since the resignation of its ministers in December 1959, the party had adopted an ambiguous position: on the one hand criticizing ‘Abd alNasir’s regime, on the other supporting Arab unity. The secession found the party in a state of confusion; whereas Hourani and Bitar signed the “secession manifesto,” the Ba’th Regional Commands in Lebanon, Iraq and Jordan condemned the break-up, calling for immediate return to the union. It was only in February 1962 that the Ba’th National Command, headed by ‘Aflaq, issued a statement criticizing the UAR mistakes (including its own) while advocating a return to a federal union. This stance was resisted both by Hourani’s faction and by many of the Ba’th rank and file. Following the party’s Fifth National Congress in May 1962, in which ‘Aflaq’s position was affirmed, Hourani and his supporters either left or were expelled from the party.4* The structural and ideological disputes led to the emergence of several groups within the Ba’th, more radical in their socialist orientation, less committed to Arab unity, and opposed to the veteran leadership of ‘Aflaq and Bitar. In the words of a young Ba’thi, the union led “to tear the veil from our ey es. . . We then understood the glaring truth - we had to review everything in our views, thoughts, sympathies, expectations. We felt that the period of polit­ ical adolescence was over, that we should move from revolt to revolution.”49 Although ‘Aflaq and Bitar still played vital roles in the Ba’th regime that came to power in March 1963, they were eventually overthrown in February 1966 by a more militant faction headed by Amin al-Hafiz, Salah Jadid, and Hafiz alAsad. Since 1968, ‘Aflaq backed the rival Ba’th regime in Baghdad, while Bitar went into exile and retired from political activity; in 1980 he was assassinated in Paris. It can be concluded, therefore, that ‘Aflaq’s and Bitar’s troubled association with the UAR eroded their stature among the young Ba’th cadres a development that in the long run led also to the revision of the party’s ideology. The lack of domestic legitimacy led the secessionist and Ba’th regimes to search for external achievements. Quite expectedly, the Arab-Israeli conflict once more proved useful. ‘Abd al-Nasir was accused of adopting a “soft” stance toward Israel’s project of diverting the Jordan River waters. Syrian leaders hoped that by displaying greater militancy toward Israel, they would embarrass ‘Abd al-Nasir while strengthening their domestic legitimacy. The Ba’th, in particular, took an extreme stance, demanding an all-Arab war against Israel. During the union, ‘Abd al-Nasir had been accused of inaction by Iraq and Jordan, but felt confident enough not to escalate the situation on the Israeli-UAR border. After the secession, however, Ba’th attacks on Egypt brought ‘Abd al-Nasir to launch a vicious anti-Israeli propaganda campaign 193

Conclusions that once more placed the diversion issue on the Arab agenda. In the ensuing war-of-words, the attempts of the Arab states to outbid each other in their extremism toward Israel resulted in the escalation of the Arab-Israeli conflict. Thus, the Syrian decision to escalate the conflict, which stemmed from domestic constraints, constituted one of the major factors leading to the 1967 War. Thus, any analysis of the process that led to the war should commence with the break-up of the UAR and not with the rise of the Ba‘th to power in 1963 or the Arab struggle over the Jordan waters in 1964.50 The UAR experience was also crucial to future socioeconomic develop­ ments in Syria. Although the post-coup government annulled or modified the socialist decrees imposed by ‘Abd al-Nasir, the old élite was unable to stymie the socialist tide. Some of the original UAR measures were re-introduced already in February 1962; the Ba‘th regime, which came to power in March 1963, continued this process with much vigor. Ironically, under the Ba‘th regime Syria’s economy followed the Egyptian model, but the question of Arab unity was shelved by then. In addition, the imposition of the Agrarian Reform Law, accompanied by frequent changes in its terms (in the years 1961-63), as well as the heavy drought, led to a substantial slowdown in agricultural devel­ opment. In 1961, the level of agricultural production was similar to that of 1953. The fact that Syria was undergoing a rapid population growth at the time meant that the per capita production sharply dropped. These developments acceler­ ated the urbanization process as large population from rural areas moved to the urban centers hoping to find employment. This process would be accelerated in future years.51 However, the most significant consequence of the UAR episode in the long run was the increasing legitimacy of the territorial Arab State. Until the early 1960, many Arab states lacked, or suffered from a serious shortage of, legiti­ macy. This phenomenon was largely attributed to the artificial nature in which these states were created after the First World War, as well as the heterogeneous composition of their societies.32 The existence of the pan-Arab movement and the appearance of ‘Abd al-Nasir as the spokesman of this revisionist ideology further weakened Arab regimes. With the formation of the UAR, it seemed that the days of some of these entities (e.g., Jordan, Lebanon, and even Iraq) are numbered. Yet, the fact that no significant Arab player joined the UAR, in addi­ tion to the “activist” policy adopted by Iraq and Jordan, which did not encounter a serious response from ‘Abd al-Nasir, strengthened the shaky legitimacy of the Arab State. By the late 1960s, it became obvious that the Arab State had not only survived the pan-Arab ideology, but also gained strength. It is more than surprising, therefore, that research on the Arab State has overlooked the contri­ bution of the UAR episode to this process.33 Failing to create a new, shared


Conclusions identity, this experience strengthened the Egyptian and Syrian, as well as other local Arab (such as Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, etc.) national identities. Since Egypt’s tenacious hold of its identity was understandable in light of its age-old history and culture, it was the Syrian conduct that made the difference; the fact that Syria, which had been the cradle of pan-Arabism, had opted for statehood conferred legitimacy upon this Western concept. Its behavior suggests that scholars overstated the importance of Syrian attachment to pan-Arabism, while downplaying the strength of local patriotic bonds there. In a sense, therefore, Arab élites have always been parochial in their interests, which have largely developed along the lines of the territorial boundaries.34 This trend - the growing identification of the local population with the “artificial” boundaries that were allegedly imposed by Western imperialism - was reinforced in the wake of the 1967 War. Since then, a more “normal” Arab system of states devel­ oped in which concepts such as sovereignty, independence, and local patriotism became accepted rules of the game.33Thus in a dialectic way, both the pan-Arab ideology and the UAR episode paved the way to the consolidation of the state and the concept of territorial nationalism (wataniyya). In spite of the consolidation of the Arab State, the UAR has remained a symbol and a source of legitimacy for certain Arab rulers. ‘Abd al-Nasir retained the name and flag of the UAR until his death. However, his successor, Anwar al-Sadat, disengaged himself from ‘Abd al-Nasir’s legacy by adopting a new flag and by replacing the name “UAR” with “the Arab Republic of Egypt.36Syria, on the other hand, returned to its old flag after secession. In April 1980, however, the Syrian constitution was amended and the original UAR flag once more adopted; it has remained Syria’s flag since then. Ironically, it was President Asad, the ‘Alawite officer deported to Cairo during the union for his alleged opposition to it, who decided to demonstrate his commitment to panArabism and thus strengthen his shaking legitimacy by adopting the UAR flag.37 Syria’s attachment to the pan-Arab ideal would remain a source of legiti­ macy for Asad, at least rhetorically. In 1998, the 40th anniversary of the UAR was widely celebrated in the official media. An editorial in the Ba‘th organ Tishrin stated that “Arab Power Lay in Their Unity,” blaming the fall of the UAR on “secessionist knives that conspired with foreign countries.” The news­ paper quoted Asad to the effect that “the union should be in the forefront of the hopes and goals we aspire fo r. . . the union is not a response to an existing threat or challenge but a return to the natural situation for the Arab nation.”38 In contrast, UAR anniversary day passed almost unnoticed in Egypt; only a short article in the influential al-Ahram, written by a scion of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s family, reminded the readers that forty years ago the same newspaper joyfully described the formation of the union as “the Greatest of All Days!”39 Egyptian 195

Conclusions academies, however, showed more interest in this episode as they organized conferences that attempted to evaluate the UAR experience and its lessons.60 The immediate reaction to the secession in the Arab world was mixed. While most of the rulers paid lip service to the cause of Arab unity, many were satis­ fied at the turn of events, hoping that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s threat to their regimes had finally receded. Courageous in particular was Jordan’s King Husayn, who recognized the new regime on the morrow of the coup. Other Arab rulers took this step only when they felt secure, following the US decision to recognize Syria. Whereas most Syrians felt jubilant at regaining their independence, most Egyptians felt indifferent. But for many Arabs, the fall of the UAR was no less than a “relapse” (naksa), a “disaster” (nakba), or a “catastrophe” (karitha).61 The break-up was particularly disappointing for the Palestinians believing that the UAR would facilitate the liberation of Palestine. In 1957-58, many Palestinians joined the pan-Arab movement al-Qawmiyyun al-'Arab, which enthusiastically endorsed ‘Abd al-Nasir’s policies. Disenchanted with the panArab dream, however, Palestinians flocked to the new Fatah organization, which had already been established in Kuwait in October 1959 by Yasser ‘Arafat.62 Overall, the collapse of the union was a traumatic experience for the Arabs. In spite of the various unity schemes that were discussed and implemented in the post-1961 period, Arab unity has never been able to recover from this painful ordeal. This mythical dream, which had given the Arabs a sense of dignity (karama) and pride ( ‘izza), was shattered by the harsh reality of the UAR. The frustration and despair were especially intense since it was hard to blame “imperialism” for the calamity (although many still did, see above) and the Arabs had to look for the causes of failure within their own society. The extent of the Arab disappointment may be illustrated in the following quotation written by an Arab intellectual in a different context. “Like the inhabitants of an island who have been promised that the ship of deliverance will soon arrive, they [the Arabs] have buried their tools and packed their meager belongings; but when the ship arrives, [they see] it is a slave boat.”63 But perhaps no one in the Arab world has been able to express more vividly the despair induced by this experience than the late Syrian poet, Nizar Qabbani,64 once a great admirer of ‘Abd al-Nasir, who wrote in 1976: We dreamt of the great Arab unity . . . but when we reached the palm tree, we quarreled over the dates . . . We boasted that in the United Arab State, the sun would never set, but when we became the rulers, its rays turned into one candle, whose light was unable to illuminate but our own statelets . . .



Introduction 1 See, e.g. F. Sayegh, Arab Unity: Hope and Fulfillment (New York: 1958), p. 186; K. S. Abu Jaber, The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party: History, Ideology and Organization (Syracuse: 1966), pp. 39-45; A. Perlmutter, Political Roles and Military Rulers (London: 1981), p. 141; Jamil Matar and ‘Ali al-Din Hilal, al-Nizam al-Iqlimi al-'Arabi (Beirut: 1983), p. 78; Ahmad ‘Abd al-Karim, A dw a’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda (Beirut: 1962), pp. 208-9; Mustafa Dandishli, H izbal-B a’th al'Arabi al-Ishtiraki, 1940-1963, Vol. 1 (Beirut: 1979); ‘Awni al-Muhsin Farsakh, al-Wahda fi al-Tajriba: Dirasa Tahliliya li-Wahda 1958 (Beirut: 1980); Sami alJundi, al-Ba'th (Beirut: n.d.); Nizar ‘Arabi, Madha Yajri f i Suriya? (Damascus: 1962); Khaldun Sati* al-Husri, “Hawla al-Wahda al-‘Arabiyya,” in Dirasat fi alQawmiyya al-'Arabiyya (Beirut: 1984), pp. 237-49; ‘Izzat Darwaza, al-Wahda a l-‘Arabiyya (Beirut: 1958), pp. 602-700; Salah al-Din al-Bitar, as quoted in ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Mashat, “Thalathun ‘Aman ‘ala al-Wahda: Ussus al-Wahda alMisriyya al-Suriyya wa-I‘adat Ikhtibar li-Muqadamatiha,” al-Mustaqbal al- ‘Arabi, No. 96 (1987), p. 5; ‘Abdallah ‘Abd al-Da’am, “Tajribat al-Wahda al-Misriyya alSuriyya (1958—1961),” Shu’un ‘Arabiyya, No. 43 (1985), pp. 109-29. 2 This is in contrast to the dominant Aussenpolitik school, which maintains that inter­ national relations strongly affects a state’s domestic affairs. For a discussion of these two schools, see F. Zakaria, “Realism and Domestic Politics,” International Security, Vol. 17 (1992), pp. 177-98. For a study that shows how Syria’s domestic affairs affected its foreign affairs since 1961, see Y. Bar-Siman-Tov, Linkage Politics in the Middle East: Syria Between Domestic and External Conflict, 1961-1970 (Boulder: 1983). 3 See, in particular: P. Seale, The Struggle fo r Syria: A Study o f Post-War Arab Politics, 1945-1958 (London, new edn, 1986), pp. 307-26; G. H. Toney, Syrian Politics and the Military, 1945-1958 (Columbus, OH: 1964), pp. 387-93; M. Ken, The Arab Cold War: Gamal 'Abd al-Nasir and His Rivals, 3rd edn. (London: 1981),

pp. 10-12; M. Palmer, “The United Arab Republic: An Assessment of Its Failures,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 20 (1966), pp. 51-2; M. Van-Dusen, “Syria: Downfall of a Traditional Élite,” in F. Tachau (ed.), Political Élites and Political Development in the Middle East (New York: 1975), p. 129; P. J. Vatikiotis, The Egyptian Army


Notes to pp. 1-2 in Politics (Bloomington: 1961), p. 166; M. Mufti, Sovereign Creations: PanArabism and Political Order in Syria and Iraq (Ithaca, NY: 1996), pp. 82-98.

4 Ibid., p.2. 5 On certain aspects of the realist school, see J. S. Levy, “The Causes of War: A Review of Theories and Evidence,” in P. E. Tetlock et al. (eds), Behavior, Society, and Nuclear War, Vol. 1 (New York: 1989), pp. 224-8. 6 See, G. M. Haddad, Revolutions and Military Rule in the Middle East: The Arab States, Vol. 2 (New York: 1971), pp. 230, 238; A. Dawisha, Egypt in the Arab World: The Elements o f Foreign Policy (New York: 1976), pp. 141-4; G. Warburg, “Egypt’s Regional Policy from Muhammad Ali to Muhammad Anwar al-Sadat,” in C. F. Pinkele and A. Pollis (eds), The Contemporary Mediterranean World (New York: 1983), pp. 129-30; ‘Afif al-Bizri, al-Tami'un laysu Wahdawiyyun (Damascus: 1962). Although Seale emphasized the domestic constraints, he wrote in this regard: “Reluctant ‘Abd al-Nasir may have been. But he must soon have real­ ized what powerful backing Syria’s immolation would give to his own claims to Arab leadership” (Struggle fo r Syria, p. 322). 7 Haddad, Revolutions and Military Rule, Vol. 2, p. 238. Seale asserted that “Syria held the key to the struggle for local primacy,” and that “whoever would lead the Middle East must control her” (Struggle fo r Syria, pp. xvi, 1-2). For an evaluation of Egypt’s capabilities, see Podeh, The Questfor Hegemony in the Arab World: The Struggle over the Baghdad Pact (Leiden: 1995), ch. 1. 8 R. Schweller, “Neorealism’s Status-Quo Bias: What Security Dilemma?” In B. Frankel (ed.), Realism: Restatements and Renewel (London: 1996), p. 102. 9 Nasser and His Generation (London: 1978), pp. 226-7. For further sources that develop this theme, see M. Kerr, “Egyptian Foreign Policy and the Revolution,” in J. P. Vatikiotis (ed.), Egypt since the Revolution (London: 1968), p. 121; M. H. Heikal, “Egyptian Foreign Policy,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 56 (1978), p. 717; Podeh, Quest fo r Hegemony, pp. 14-15. 10 P. M. Holt claimed that Syria had played a strategic role as buffer zone to protect Egypt from a possible Ottoman invasion; see Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, 1516-1922 (Ithaca, NY: 1969), p. 158. 11 In evaluating general motives of Arab regimes to unite, Mufti made a distinction between “expansionist” motives (“to incorporate the prospective partner or at least bring it under one’s sphere of influence”) and “defensive” motives (“to ward off domestic or foreign threats to the regime”); see Sovereign Creations, p. 6. As for sources that referred to Syrian security dilemma, see note 3. Most of the sources, however, stressed the Soviet, and not Israeli, menace. 12 See, e.g., C. Elman and M. F. Elman, “Diplomatic History and International Relations Theory,” International Security, Vol. 22 (1997), p. 11. The authors emphasized that this was one of the major differences between historians and polit­ ical scientists. 13 The description of the differences between Egypt and Syria is based on the following sources: A. Etzioni, Political Unification: A Comparative Study o f Leaders and Sources (New York: 1965), pp. 104-5; M. Ma’oz, “Society and State in Modem


Notes to pp. 2 -5

14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21

22 23



Syria,” in M. Milson (ed.), Society and Political Structure in the Arab World (New York: 1973), pp. 29-32; K. Abu Jaber, The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party: History, Ideology and Organization (Syracuse: 1966), p. 57; P. J. Vatikiotis, The Egyptian Army in Politics (Bloomington: 1961), pp. 166-7; R. H. Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba'thist Syria: Army, Party and Peasant (Boulder: Col., 1990), p. 95; D. Lemer, The Passing o f Traditional Society (New York: 1958), pp. 214-302; D. Warriner, Land Reform and Development in the Middle East: A Study o f Egypt, Syria and Iraq (Oxford: 1962), pp. 191 -2; Haddad, Revolutions and Military Rule, Vol. 2, pp. 189-93; USNA, RG 59, Intelligence Report, 11 March 1960,786B.00/3-2460. For estimates of population by religious communities, see G. Torrey, Syrian Politics, p. 419. A. Smith, “State-Making and Nation-Building,” in J. A. Hall (ed.), States in History (Oxford: 1987), p. 257. Matar, Bisaraha ‘an ‘Abd al-Nasir (Beirut: 1972), p. 157. This was also the argu­ ment of Jamal Hamdan, Dirasat f i al-'Alam al-'Arabi (Cairo: 1958), p. 103. K. Wittfogel, Oriental Despotism: A Comparative Study o f Total Power (New Haven, CON: 1959), ch. 1. Haddad, Revolutions and Military Rule, Vol. 2, p. 191. On the other hand, this problem was solvable because Egypt and Syria exported different types of cotton. J. Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States: State-Society Relations and State Capabilities in the Third World (Princeton: 1988), pp. 181-90. Haddad, Revolution and Military Rule, Vol. 2, p. 192. In this regard one must bring Heikal’s much-quoted joke of Quwwatli, who had told ‘Abd al-Nasir following the signing of the union: “You have no idea what you have done, Mr. President!! You took upon yourself a people in which everyone thinks he is a politician. 50 per cent of them think they are leaders, 25 per cent believe they are prophets, and at least 10 per cent take themselves for Gods.” See M. H. Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya (Cairo: 1962), p. 42. E. Kienle, “Arab Unity Schemes revisited: Interest, Identity, and Policy in Syria and Egypt,” International Journal o f Middle East Studies, Vol. 27 (1995), p. 53. On the term “stateness,” see G. Ben-Dor, “Enthopolitics and the Middle Eastern State,” in M. J. Esman and I. Rabinovich (eds), Ethnicity, Pluralism and the State in the Middle East (Ithaca, NY: 1988), pp. 81-5. K. J. Holsti, The State, War, and the State o f War (Cambridge: 19%), pp. 82-3. On this theme, see also Migdal, Strong Societies and Weak States ; L. Anderson, “The State in the Middle East and North Africa,” Comparative Politics, Vol. 20 (1987), pp. 1-18. Holsti, p. 97. According to his definition, “horizontal legitimacy refers to the atti­ tudes and practices of individuals and groups within the state toward each other and ultimately to the state that encompasses them. If the various groups and com­ munities within the polity accept and tolerate each other, horizontal legitimacy is


Notes to pp. 5-6

26 27 28


30 31 32




36 37 38



high” (p. 87). Vertical legitimacy, however, “establishes the connection (the ‘right to rule’) between society and political institutions and regimes.” M. Hudson, Arab Politics: the Search fo r Legitimacy (New Haven, Conn.: 1977), pp. 234-61. New York Times, 22 January 1958 (quoted in Etzioni, Political Unification, p. 106). Jamal Hamdan, Shakhsiyat Misr (Cairo: 1970), pp. 495-507; F. Ajami, The Arab Predicament, updated edn. (Cambridge: 1992), pp. 18, 92-3; Podeh, Quest fo r Hegemony, pp. 16,27-33. D. Ayalon, “Egypt as a Dominant factor in Syria and Palestine during the Islamic Period,” in A. Cohen and G. Baer (eds), Egypt and Palestine: A Millennium o f Association (868-1948) (Jerusalem: 1984), p. 23. Ibid., p. 33. Holt, Egypt and the Fertile Crescent, pp. 186-7. B. Tibi, Arab Nationalism: A Critical Enquiry, 2nd edn. (New York: 1991), p. 98; A. Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939 (Cambridge: 1984), pp. 261-2. A. L. Tibawi, A M odem History o f Syria (London: 1969), p. 80. For more infor­ mation on Ibrahim’s reforms in Syria, see M. Ma‘oz, Ottoman Reform in Syria and Palestine, 1840-1861 (Oxford: 1968), pp. 12-20. Vatikiotis suggested that “Nasser’s Arabism was a modem extension of Muhammad ‘Ali’s and Ibrahim Pasha’s Arab policies in the nineteenth century” (Nasser and His generation, p. 226). A similar connection was made by Ajami, Arab Predicament, p. 93; Warburg, “Egypt’s Regional Policy,” p. 130. E. Dawn, “The Formation of Pan-Arab Ideology in the Interwar Years,” International Journal o f Middle East Studies, Vol. 20 (1988), pp. 67-91 ; Y. Porath, In Search o f Arab Unity (London: 1986); Khoury, Syria and the French Mandate', Kienle, “Arab Unity Schemes Revisited,” pp. 53-6. Husri asserted that it was a wellknown fact that Syria’s feelings toward Arab nationalism “had been the most deep-rooted” in the Arab world, and that it was willing to surrender its sovereignty for the sake of a wider Arab state. See, ‘“ Urubat Misr,” in 'Ara' wa-Ahadith fi alQawmiyya al- 'Arabiyya, pp. 9-10. For the same argument, see Darwaza, al-Wahda al- ‘Arabiyya, pp. 605-6. Sayegh, Arab Unity, p. 185. On the evolution of pan-Arabism in Egypt see, in particular, I. Gershoni and P. Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation (Cambridge: 1996). For the translation, see Tibi, Arab Nationalism, p. 185. For the source, see Sati‘ alHusri, “Dawr Misr fi al-Nahda al-Qawmiyya al-‘Arabiyya,” in 'A ra’ wa-Ahadith fi al-Wataniyya wa-al-Qawmiyya (Beirut: 1984), p. 79. On Husri’s ideas, see W. L. Cleveland, The Making o f cm Arab Nationalist: Ottomanism and Arabism in the Life and Thought o f Sati' al-Husri (Princeton: 1971); L. M. Kenny, “Sati‘ alHusri’s views on Arab Nationalism,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 17 (1963), pp. 231-56. Cleveland, The Making o f an Arab Nationalist, p. 135. On Egypt’s envisaged role within the pan-Arab movement, see Podeh, Quest fo r Hegemony, pp. 30-3.

Notes to pp. 6-10 40 See, e.g., Darwaza, al-Wahda al- ‘Arabiyya, pp. 606-8,638-9. 41 The Theory o f Social and Economic Organization, trans. A. M. Henderson and T. Parsons (New York: 1947), pp. 328-9. 42 H. Dekmejian, Egypt under Nasir: A Study in Political Dynamics (Albany: 1971), pp. 55-9. See also in this regard, idem, “Marx, Weber and the Egyptian Revolution,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 30 (1976), pp. 158-73; L. Bowie, “Charisma, Weber and Nasir,” ibid., pp. 141-57; J. P. Entelis, “Nasser’s Egypt: The Failure of Charismatic Leadership,” Orbis, Vol. 18 (1974), pp. 451-64; J. Lacouture, The Demigods: Charismatic Leadership in the Third World (New York: 1970). 43 P. Salem, Bitter Legacy: Ideology and Politics in the Arab World (Syracuse: 1994), p. 46. 44 Etzioni, Political Unification, p. 104. Estimate of the population, following a census held in 1960: Egypt, 26,082,000; Syria, 4,561,000. See PRO, Chancery Cairo to the Levant Department, 25 October 1960, VG1882/2, FO 371/151028. 45 See, e.g., al-Hayat, 21 January 1958; Akhbar al-Yawm, 15 February 1958; Sayegh, al-Fikra al- ‘Arabiyya fi Misr, p. 289. 46 Darwaza, al-Wahda al- ‘Arabiyya, pp. 609,636-7. 47 See, e.g., the questions posed by intellectuals to al-Husri and his answers, “Hawla Wahdat Misr wa-Suriya,” in Abu Khaldun Sati‘ al-Husri (ed.), Hawla al-Qawmiyya a l-‘Arabiyya (Beirut: 1975), pp. 34-6. 48 See, in particular, Kerr, The Arab Cold War, pp. 1-25; Seale, The Struggle fo r Syria, pp. 307-26 (the book, however, deals only with the formation of the UAR). The most recent and updated analysis is found in Mufti, Sovereign Creations, pp. 82-98. 49 See this argument, e.g., in Muhammad ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir: Asbab Qiyam wa-Suqut Wahdat M isr wa-Suriya (Beirut: 1977), p. 15. 50 Mufti, Sovereign Creations, p. 1. 51 See, e.g., Ahmad Yusuf Ahmad, “Tajribat al-Jumhuriyya al-‘Arabiyya alMuttahida: Musahama ft Qira’ah Jadida Laha,” al-Mustaqbal a l-‘Arabi, No. 121 (1989), p. 41. 52 Among his publications is Islam in M odem History (Princeton: 1957), and several other books on aspects of Islam. He was director of the Institute of Islamic Studies at McGill University, Montreal. 53 Arnold Smith died in 1994 at the age of 79. For more biographical information and his personal papers, see CNA, MG 31, E47. 54 For a critical view of post-modernism, see G. Himmelfarb, “Postmodernist History,” On Looking into the Abyss: Untimely Thoughts on Culture and Society (New York: 1995), p. 135. 55 D. Lowenthal, The Past Is a Foreign Country (Cambridge: 1985), p. 235. Joyce Appleby, Lynn Hunt and Margaret Jacob wrote: “truths about the past are possible, even if they are not absolute, and hence are worth struggling for. See, Telling the Truth about History (New York: 1994), p. 7.


Notes to pp. 11-12 Chapter 1 Élite Politics in Syria and Egypt 1 M. N. Marger, Élites and Masses, 2nd edn. (Belmont, CA: 1987), p. 51. 2 T. B. Bottomore, Élites and Society (London: 1964), p. 12; Marger, Élites and Masses, p. 53. 3 Bottomore, Élites and Society, p. 11. R. D. Putnam called this sub-élite the “influentials”; see, The Comparative Study o f Political Élites (Englewood Cliffs, NJ: 1976), p. 11. 4 Ibid., pp. 3-4; Bottomore, Élites and Society, p. 29; Marger, Élites and Masses, p. 54. 5 Quoted in Marger, Élites and Masses, p. 55. 6 Ibid., p. 62. 7 S. Keller, Beyond the Ruling Class: Strategic Élites in M odem Society (New York: 1963), pp. 32-3. See also Putnam, The Comparative Study o f Political Élites, p. 14. 8 Ibid., p. 13. 9 Bottomore, Élites and Society, pp. 14-15. For other definitions, see H. D. Lasswell, Politics: Who Gets What, When, How (New York: 1961), p. 13; D. Rustow, “The Study of Élites: Who’s Who, When, and How,” World Politics, Vol. 18 (1966), p. 711. 10 Several studies have been published on élites in Middle Eastern states: F. W. Frey, The Turkish Political Élite (Cambridge: 1965); M. Zonis, The Political Élite o f Iran (Princeton: 1971); W. Quandt, Revolution and Political Leadership: Algeria, 1954-1958 (Cambridge: 1969); I. W. Zartman, “The Élites of the Maghreb,” International Journal o f Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 6 (1975), pp. 495-504; H. Dekmejian, Patterns o f Political Leadership: Egypt, Israel, Lebanon (Albany, NY : 1975); L. L. Roos and N. P. Roos, Managers o f Modernization: Organizations and Élites in Turkey (1950-1969) (Cambridge: 1971); J. Waterbury, The Commander o f the Faithful: The Moroccan Political Élite (New York: 1970); P. Marr, “Iraq’s Leadership Dilemma: A Study in Leadership Trends, 1948-1968,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 24 (1970), pp. 283-301. For a collection of articles on various Middle Eastern élites, see F. Tachau (ed.), Political Élites and Political Development in the Middle East (New York: 1975); G. Lenczowski (ed.), Political Élites in the Middle East (Washington: 1975); I. W. Zartman (ed.), Élites in the Middle East (New York: 1980). 11 Compare Bottomore’s chapter 5 in his Élites and Society with the literature on Middle Eastern élites cited above, in particular Tachau, “Introduction: Political Élites and Political Development in the Middle East,” Political Élites, p. 16. 12 A member of the old Ottoman élite defined it as follows: “Included in the upper [class] are the governors and judges and their assistants . . . the chiefs of religion, the ‘ulama ’, the lawyers, the physicians, the people of great wealth, business men, and the notables, whether by their activities or by their membership in a family respected for at least a generation. Quoted in E. Dawn, “Ottoman Affinities of 20th Century Regimes in Syria,” in D. Kushner (ed.), Palestine in the Late Ottoman Period (Jerusalem: 1986), pp. 174-5. This definition is interesting because it included in the élite both officials and non-officials.


Notes to pp. 13-16 13 Zartman, “Introduction,” in Élites in the Middle East, p. 3; Tachau, “introduction,” in Political Élites, pp. 16-17. 14 Lasswell, Politics: Who Gets What, p. 13. 15 Tachau, Political Élites, pp. 17-18; Be’eri, Army Politics, ch. 1. 16 See, in this connection: Zartman, “Towards a Theory of Élite Circulation,” in Élites in the Middle East, ch. 4; idem, “The Study of Élite Circulation,” Comparative Politics, Vol. 6 (1974), pp. 465-88. 17 Van Nieuwenhuijze, Sociology o f the Middle East (Leiden: 1971), p. 632. 18 Ibid., p. 633. 19 P. S. Khoury, Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism: The Politics o f Damascus, 1860-1920 (Cambridge: 1983), p. 1. 20 Khoury, Syria and the French Mandate, pp. 212-13. Daniel Lemer called them “city notables”; see The Passing o f Traditional Society (New York: 1958), p. 270. 21 Van Dusen, “Syria: Downfall of a Traditional Élite," p. 130; Khoury, “Continuity and Change in Syrian Political Life: The Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries,” American Historical Review, Vol. 96 (1991), p. 1384. 22 Khoury, “Continuity and Change,” p. 1384; idem, Syria and the French Mandate, p. 19. For an early exposition of this thesis, see E. Dawn, From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins o f Arab Nationalism (Urbana, IL: 1973). 23 Van Dusen, “Syria: Downfall of a Traditional Élite,” p. 124; idem, “Political Integration and Regionalism in Syria,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 26 (1972), p. 126. Avi-Dan claimed that by 1958 there were 3,200 big landowners in Syria, “Élites and Center,” p. 211. 24 This list was compiled from Khoury, Syria under the French Mandate, p. 10, n. 12; Van Dusen, “Syria: Downfall of a Traditional Élite,” p. 124. 25 Khoury, Syria and the French Mandate, pp. 208-9. 26 Ibid., p. 209; Avi-Dan, “Élites and Center,” p. 211. 27 Khoury, Syria under the French Mandate, p. 209. 28 This argument was further developed by R. Hinnebusch, who analyzed Syrian developments in light of class conflicts. See Authoritarian Power and State Formation in Ba ‘thist Syria: Army, Party, and Peasant (Boulder, CO: 1990), pp. 49-78. 29 Khoury, Syria and the French Mandate, p. 18. 30 Ibid., p. 623. 31 Khoury, “Continuity and Change,” p. 1390. 32 Khoury, Syria and the French Mandate, p. 625. 33 Ibid. 34 D. Warriner, Land Reform and Development in the Middle East: A Study o f Egypt, Syrian and Iraq (Oxford: 1962), pp. 89-92. 35 Khoury, Syria under the French Mandate, p. 626. 36 In spite of the economic and political importance of this company in Syrian life (see the following chapters), there is almost no information on it. See Seale, Struggle fo r Syria, p. 134, note 4; Middle East Record, Vol. 2 (London: 1961), p. 601; Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 243.


Notes to pp. 16-18 37 Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, pp. 81-2, 91-2; Van Düsen, “Syria: the Downfall of a Traditional Élite,” p. 124; Dawn, “Ottoman Affinities," p. 183. 38 On the League’s platform and membership, see Khoury, Syria under the French Mandate, pp. 400-33. 39 Ibid., p. 627. The League consisted of members of the upper class such as Sabri al‘Asali, ‘Abd al-Razzaq al-Dandashi, Ahmad al-Sharabati, Ghalib al-‘Azm, Muhsin al-Barazi, Mustafa Hourani, ‘Adnan, Hilmi and Makram al-Atasi. In fact, only Zaki al-Arsuzi and Jalal al-Sayyid were former League members in the Ba’th; see ibid., Table 15-2. 40 Lemer, Passing o f Traditional Society, pp. 275-6,286. The term effendi describes “the secular, literate town people, usually dressed in European style, as against the lower classes on the one hand, and the men of religion on the other.” See Encyclopedia o f Islam, new edn. (Leiden: 1965), p. 687. For more information of the effendia in the Egyptian context, see Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, p. 11. 41 On the role of the army, see Be’eri, Army Officers, pp. 334-5; Van Dusen, “Syria: The Downfall of a Traditional Élite,” p. 124; Khoury, Syria under the French Mandate, p. 629; Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, pp. 82-5. 42 Seale, Struggle fo r Syria, pp. 37-164. 43 Dawn, “Ottoman Affinities,” p. 183; Be’eri, Army Officers, p. 339. On Hourani’s career, see Seale, Struggle fo r Syria, pp. 86-8; Hinnebusch, Authoritarian Power, pp. 83,88,98-9. He claimed that Hourani “has been considered perhaps the single most powerful politician of pre-1963 Syria.” He added, nevertheless, that Hourani “never achieved the broad personal stature among either intellectuals or masses that would allow him to emerge as the Ba’th paramount leader” (ibid ., p. 88). 44 Dawn, “Ottoman Affinities,” p. 184. 45 Be’eri, Army Officers, pp. 401-7. 46 Dawn, “Syrian Affinities,” p. 184. 47 Lemer, Passing o f Traditional Society, p. 272. 48 R. B. Winder, “Syrian Deputies and Cabinet Ministers, 1919-1959,” Part 1 and 2, Middle East Journal, Vol. 16 (1962), pp. 407-24; Vol. 17 (1963), pp. 35-54; G. H. Torrey, “Aspects of the Political Élite in Syria,” pp. 151-61. 49 Winder, “Syrian Deputies,” ibid., Vol. 17 (1963), p. 42. 50 It would only be fair to note that in the parliament that served under Shishakli (October 1953-February 1954) 75 per cent of its members were “new faces”. This was partly because only Shishakli’s party (the Arab Liberation Movement) and the PPS participated in the elections. See Seale, Struggle fo r Syria, pp. 129-30; AviDan, “Élites and Center,” p. 212. 51 Seale, Struggle fo r Syria, p. 182. 52 Van Dusen, “Syria: Downfall of a Traditional Élite,” p. 129. 53 This argument was first suggested by Vatikiotis as a possible hypothesis (out of several) for the establishment of the union; see Egyptian Army, p. 166. 54 Khoury, “Continuity and Change,” p. 1392. This argument was first suggested by Dawn, “Ottoman Affinities,” p. 185. See also, in this regard, A. Hourani, “A Note


Notes to pp. 18-22


56 57



60 61 62 63 64

65 66


68 69 70

on Revolutions in the Middle East,” in Emergence o f the M odem Middle East (Berkeley: 1981), pp. 71-2. S. Akhavi, “Egypt: Neo-Patrimonial Élite,” in Tachau, Political Élites, p. 95; R. Springborg, “Patterns of Association in the Egyptian Political Élite,” in G. Lenczowski, Political Élites in the Middle East, p. 93. Dekmejian, Patterns o f Political Leadership, p. 170. M. Halpem, The Politics o f Social Change in the Middle East and Near East (Princeton: 1970), p. 76. See also P. J. Vatikiotis, The History o f M odem Egypt: From Muhammad Ali to Mubarak, 4th edn. (London: 1991), p. 395. For further details, see Akhavi, “Egypt: Neo-Patrimonial Élite,” pp. 85-7; Vatikiotis, Egyptian Army, pp. 48-9, 222-3; Dekmejian, Patterns o f Political Leadership, pp. 176-7, 215. Initially, this group included Muhammad Naguib; a figurehead of the Free Officers and who was stripped of his powers in November 1954. By his age (bom in 1901), rank (major general), and social background, Naguib did not belong to this generation unit. Dekmejian, Patterns o f Political Leadership, p. 178. For a somewhat different list, see Akhavi, “Egypt: A Neo-Patrimonial Élite,” p. 88; Vatikiotis, Egyptian Army, p. 224. A. Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, Trans. C. Lam Markmann (New York: 1968), pp. 211-12. Dekmejian, Patterns o f Political Leadership, p. 178. Ibid., pp. 174-6. Vatikiotis, Egyptian Army, p. 218. The du fah referred to a graduating class in a single faculty or subject from a univer­ sity, technical or military institute, or secondary school. It generated a strong sense of loyalty to mutual obligations among its members. The shilla was a small group of friends who worked together to achieve individual goals and particularly career advancement in the civil service, military, public sector, and/or the political élite. See Springborg, “Patterns of Association,” pp. 97-9. Dekmejian, Patterns o f Political Leadership, pp. 185-189; Be’eri, Army Officers, pp. 28-9; A. Dawisha, Egypt in the Arab World, p. 113. Be’eri, Army Officers, p. 120; M. Rodinson, “The Political System,” in P. J. Vatikiotis (ed.), Egypt since the Revolution (New York: 1968), p. 101. This is not to say that no disputes occurred within this group: Husayn, Baghdadi and Ibrahim were often critical of ‘Abd al-Nasir. See P. J. Vatikiotis, Nasser and His Generation, pp. 309-11. Ibid., p. 296. In late 1958, the American ambassador reported that *Abd al-Nasir’s inner circle included the Sabri brothers, Munir Ghalib, ‘Abd al-Kader Hatem, Kama! al-Din Hussayn and Kamal Rif‘at. USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 193,5 December 1958,786B.00/12-558. Dekmejian, Patterns o f Political Leadership, p. 180. Ibid., pp. 179-82; Vatikiotis, Nasser and His Generation, p. 309. Marger, Élites and Masses, p. 53.


Notes to pp. 22-7 71 Interestingly, the Syrian model resembles the Pakistani case, see A. Hussain, Élite Politics in an Ideological State: The Case o f Pakistan (London: 1979), p. 37. Chapter 2

The Road to the Union

1 See, in particular, Khoury, Syria under the French Mandate ; Dawn, “The Formation of Pan-Arab Ideology in the Interwar Years.” 2 See, e.g., Seale, Struggle fo r Syria, pp. 46; Kienle, “Arab Unity Schemes Revisited,” p. 55. 3 For the text, see Husri, “al-Ahzab al-Suriya,” in al-'Uruba bayna Du'atiha waMu'aradiha, pp. 118-19. 4 Sayegh, Arab Unity, p. 185. See also the discussion of al-Husri in ‘“Urubat Misr,” 'A ra’ wa-Ahadithfial-Qawmiyya al-'Arabiyya (Beirut: 1984), pp. 8-10. 5 Husri, “Mudhakkirat al-Qudsi,” in al- 'Uruba Awalan (Beirut: 1985), p. 102. On the plan, see ibid., pp. 101-3; Kienle, “Arab Unity Schemes Revisited,” p. 54. 6 The 142 seats in parliament were divided as follows: 71 independents (of which 30 were associated with the leftist Khalid al-‘Azm), 31 populists, 19 nationalists, 16 Ba‘th, 2 PPS, 2 Social Cooperatives, 1 Communist. In comparison, in 1949 the Ba‘th won only one seat. PRO, Gallagher to FO, Tel. 362, 6 October 1954, VY1016/121, FO 371/111141; Kaylani, The Rise o f the Syrian Ba'th, p. 15. For an assessment of the elections, see PRO, Gallagher to Eden, Dispatch 155,13 October 1954, VY1016/127, FO 371/111141; Seale, pp. 164-85. According to Seale and Lesch, the Ba‘th received 22 seats; see Seale, Struggle fo r Syria, p. 182; D. Lesch, Syria and the United States: Eisenhower’s Cold War in the Middle East (Boulder: 1992), pp. 53-4. These figures, according to my sources, are inaccurate. 7 For the text of the constitution, see S. Haim, Arab Nationalism: An Anthology (Berkeley: 1976), pp. 233-41. On the evolution of the Ba'th Party, see J. Devlin, The Ba'th Party: A History o f Its Origins to 1966 (Stanford: 1966); K. Abu Jaber, The Arab Ba'th Socialist Party: History, Ideology and Organization (Syracuse: 1966); M. Dandishli, Hizb al-Ba'th al-'Arabi al-Ishtiraki, 1940-1963, Vol. 1 (Beirut: 1979); S. al-Jundi, al-Ba'th (Beirut: n.d.). 8 Haim, Arab Nationalism, p. 236. 9 Husri, Difa' ‘an a l-‘Uruba (Beirut: 1985), pp. 99-122; idem, Akhbar al-Yawm, 5 June 1954. 10 ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Bazzaz, al-Dawla al-Muwahhada wa-al-Dawla al-Ittihadiyya, 2nd edn. (Cairo: 1960), pp. 89-94,99-102. 11 Nabih Amin Faris, Dirasat ‘Arabiyya (Beirut: 1957), pp. 104-11. The author excluded Lebanon from his analysis, claiming that because of its special position, “one must not impose upon Lebanon any solution that it does not wish to accept of its own free will.” 12 Darwaza, al- Wahda al- ‘Arabiyya, pp. 636-90. 13 Devlin, Ba'th Party, pp. 79-81. *Abd al-Nasir-Ba'th relations during these years were described by Mustafa Dandishli as “the enmity phase”; see Hizb al-Ba ‘th, pp. 208-10.


Notes to pp. 27-8 14 ‘Abdallah al-Alayili, Dustur al-'Arab al-Qawmi (quoted in Haim, Arab Nationalism, p. 42). 15 This was also the title of the article. See al-Siyasa al- ‘Arabiyya bayna al-Mabda ’ wa-al-Tatbiq (Beirut: 1960), pp. 46-8. See also Devlin, The Ba'th Party, pp. 85-6. 16 Dandishli, Hizb al-B a‘th, p. 211. 17 See in this regard, Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, pp. 117-42. 18 Mustafa Amin, Akhbar al-Yawm, 27 January 1951. For a criticism of this article, see Husri, a l-‘Uruba Awalan, pp. 104-12. He claimed (p. 112) that waiting for this great leader was like waiting for the Mahdi. 19 See, e.g., the al-Musawwar symposium, 17 April 1953; Ihsan ‘Abd al-Qudus, Ruz al-Yusuf, 28 December 1953. This was the last in a series of articles, which had started in 1952 in the newspaper al-Masri and called for the adoption of Egypt’sfirst policy. See also Sayegh, al-Fikra a l-‘Arabiyya f i Misr, pp. 270-1; Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, “Kayfa Iktashafat Misr ‘Urubataha,” al-Majalla, 1-7 January 1983, pp. 38-42. G. Silbermann, “National Identity in Nasserist Ideology, 1951-1970,” Asian and African Studies, Vol. 8 (1972), pp. 53-7. For a criticism of this policy, see Husri, “Hawla al-Wahda al-‘Arabiyya,” in a l-‘Uruba Awalan, pp. 117-21. 20 G. Abdul Nasser, Egypt’s Liberation: The Philosophy o f the Revolution (Washington, DC: 1955). See also Silbermann, “National Identity,” pp. 55-6. 21 ‘Abd al-Nasir, Philosophy o f the Revolution, pp. 88-9; Haim, Arab Nationalism, p. 53. See also J. Vigneau, “The Ideology of the Egyptian Revolution,” in W. Laqueur (ed.), The Middle East in Transition (London: 1958), pp. 137-8. 22 Sunday Times, 1 August 1954. Quoted in M. Nasr, al-Tasawwur al-Qawmi al‘Arabi f i Fikr Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir, 1952-1970 (Beirut: 1981), p. 113. This does not negate the thesis that ‘Abd al-Nasir’s exposure to radical political movements in the 1930s “predisposed him personally towards a more Islamic-Arab emphasis on Egypt’s role in the Middle East”; see Vatikiotis, Nasser and His Generation, p. 225. See also Nasr, al-Tasawwur al-Qawmi, pp. 75-100. 23 See the symposium organized by Al-Musawwar, 17 April 1953. ‘Azzam had artic­ ulated such ideas since the 1930s, see Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, 133-8. This kind of “Egyptian imperialism” was strongly resented by Husri; see a l-‘Uruba Awalan, pp. 83-9. 24 Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, pp. 134-40. See also Akhbar al-Yawm, 5 June 1954. 25 Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, pp. 135-6. Anis Sayegh asserted that Syria and Palestine constituted a “corridor” (dihliz ) to Egypt; see alFikra al- ‘Arabiyya fi Misr, p. 288. On Egypt’s strategic interests in Syria, see Jamal Hamdan, Shakhsiyyat M isr (Cairo: 1970), pp. 495-507; Salah Zaki, Misr wa-alM as’ala al-Qawmiyya (Bahth f i ‘Urubat Misr) (Cairo: 1983), pp. 96-108; Podeh, Quest fo r Hegemony, pp. 16-17; Dawisha, Egypt in the Arab World, p. 75; M. Kerr, “Egyptian Foreign Policy and the Revolution,” in P. J. Vatikiotis (ed.), Egypt since the Revolution (London: 1968), pp. 36,42. 26 ‘Abd al-Nasir, Philosophy o f the Revolution, p. 59.


Notes to pp. 28-32 27 Interview with al-Dustur, IS February 1988, on the occasion of the UAR 30th anniversary. 28 Akhbar al-Yawm, 13 November 1954. On the occasion of the newspaper’s tenth anniversary, the editor attempted to predict the situation in 1964. Husri, who had criticized Amin for his anti-Arab attitude, now published an apology; see “Istidrak,” in al- ‘Uruba Awalan, pp. 113-14. 29 Sayegh, al-Fikra al- ‘Arabiyya fi Misr, pp. 304-7. 30 Nasr, al-Tasawwur al-Qawmi al- ‘Arabi, pp. 278-9; Podeh, Quest fo r Hegemony, chs. 5-7. 31 ‘Abd al-Nasir issued the constitution on 16 January 1956. It was to go into effect after a national plebiscite on 23 June. See Tibi, Arab Nationalism, p. 183; Sayegh, Arab Unity, p. 179. For the full text in English, see Middle East Journal, Vol. 10 (1956), pp. 300-7. 32 Translated by Tibi, Arab Nationalism, p. 184. See Husri, ‘“Urubat Misr,” in 'Ara ’ wa-Ahadith f i al-Qawmiyya a l-‘Arabiyya, pp. 7-15. 33 Darwaza, al-Wahda al- ‘Arabiyya, pp. 636-7. 34 ‘Abd al-Nasir, Philosophy o f the Revolution, p. 87. 35 See in this regard, Husri, al-Iqlimiyya, pp. 59-61 ; Sayegh, al-Fikra al- ‘Arabiyya f i Misr, pp. 316-17. 36 PRO, Gardner to Eden, Dispatch 180, 17 November 1954, VY10316/4, FO 371/111148. 37 On the Arab struggle over the Baghdad Pact, see Podeh, Quest fo r Hegemony. 38 On the Arab struggle over Syria, see ibid., chapters. 6-7. 39 ‘Aflaq said that in January 1956, when the idea of forming a national pact was discussed between the various parties, the Ba‘th demanded complete union with Egypt, a demand that was rejected by the other parties. See Devlin, B a’th Party, p. 87. Quoted from ‘Aflaq, Ma'arakat al-Masir al-Wahid (Beirut: 1958), p. 46. 40 Devlin, B a’th Party, p. 88; Dandishli, al-Ba'th a l-‘Arabi, p. 212. 41 Salah al-Din al-Bitar, al-Siyasa al- ‘Arabiyya, pp. 46-8. Appeared also in Nidal alBa'th, Vol. 3 (Beirut: 1964), pp. 179-83. For ‘Aflaq’s articles, see Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 88. Quoted from Ma ‘arakat al-Masir al- Wahid, pp. 66-77. For a criticism, see Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 88. 42 Gardner to Lloyd, Dispatch 114,11 July 1956, VY10316/14 (a copy foundinCNA, RG 25/5872,50162-B-40). 43 The translation is taken from Gardner to Lloyd, Dispatch 114, 11 July 1956, VY10316/14 (a copy found in CNA, RG 25/5872, 50162-B-40). See also PRO, Gardner to FO, Tel. 330, 28 June 1956, VY1015/42; Tel. 311, 20 June 1956, VY1015/37, FO 371/121858. 44 For the text, see al-Jundi, al-Ba ‘th, p. 74. See also Dandishli, Hizb al-Ba ‘th, p. 214. 45 On the visit, see USNA, Moose to Secretary of State, Tel. 23, 6 July 1956, 674.83/7-656; Tel. 34,7 July 1956,674.83/7-756; PRO, Gardner to FO, Tel. 340, 3 July 1956, VY1015/45, FO 371/121858; Trevelyan to FO, Tel. 1154,2 July 1956, VY10316/6, FO 371/121864. 46 On the cabinet’s and parliament’s sessions, see USNA, Moose to Secretary of State,


Notes to pp. 32-4



49 50 51 52

53 54 55


57 58 59



Tel. 36,7 July 1956,674.83/7-756; Moose to Department of State, Dispatch 21,18 July 1956,674.83/7-1856; PRO,Gardnerto FO,Tel. 354,6July 1956, VY10316/8, FO 371/121864. For details of Quwwatli’s plan, see USNA, Moose to Department of State, Dispatch 45, 2 August 1956, 674.83/8-256; PRO, Chancery Damascus to Levant Department, 18 July 1956, VY10316/16, FO 371/121864; al-Jarida, 8 August 1956. PRO, Trevelyan to Ross, 14July 1956, VY10316/15.FO 371/121864. For more on opposition to the idea within the Syrian cabinet and public, see USNA, Moose to Department of State, Dispatch 21,18 July 1956,674.83/7-1856. On the lukewarm Egyptian attitude, see Trevelyan to FO, Tel. 199 Saving, 11 July 1956, VY10316/11, FO 371/121864. PRO, Eden’s minute, 11 July 1956, on Bowker’s Tel. 581,7 July 1956, VY10316/9, FO 371/121864. Al-Ahram, 27 July; Voice of the Arabs, 26 July 1956 (BBC, No. 5, 28 July 1956), p. 3. Ahmad, “Tajribat al-Jumhuriyya al-‘Arabiyya al-Muttahida,” p. 43. Sayegh, al-Fikra al- ‘Arabiyya fi Misr, p. 307. For the text, see “Draft Constitution for the Arab Union,” in I. L. Gendzier (ed.), A Middle East Reader (New York: 1969), pp. 290-9. See also PRO, Chancery Cairo to African Department, 10 July 1956, VY10316/12, FO 371/121864. USNA, Moose to Secretary of State, Tel. 312, 7 August 1956,674.83/8-756; Tel. 341,9 August 1956,674.83/8-956. Quoted in Lesch, Syria and the United States, p. 93. Anis Sayegh wrote that the Suez War, following the Palestine War in 1948, substan­ tiated that it is impossible to defend Egypt from Suez, Aswan or Marsa Matruh, and that it is essentia] to defend it from Iraq, Syria, the Hijaz, Libya and the Sudan (alFikra al- ‘Arabiyya fi Misr, p. 288). On the Eisenhower Doctrine, see Seale, Strugglefor Syria, pp. 285-9; Podeh, Quest for Hegemony, pp. 224-9. It should be emphasized that when President Eisenhower sent his special emissary to the Middle East, James Richards, he excluded Cairo and Damascus from his visit. USNA, Moose to Secretary of State, Tel. 1679,12 January 1957,674.83/1-1257; Tel. 1747,24 January 1957,674.83/1-2457. Blitz News, 23 March 1957 (quoted in Torrey, Syrian Politics, p. 332). PRO, Scott to Wsatson, 28 March 1957, VY1015/41, FO 371/128222; Silbermann, “National Identity,” p. 63; Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2 (Cairo: 1976), p. 201; BBC, No. 198,16 March 1957, p. ii. On the contrast between the reaction of Arab rulers and the masses to the Suez Affair, see E. Podeh, “The Struggle over Arab Hegemony after the Suez Crisis,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 29 (1993), pp. 91-110. Voice of the Arabs, 22 July 1957 (BBC, No. 305,24 July 1957, p. 18). It should be noted, however, that most of the speech was dedicated to economic and social 209

Notes to pp. 34-6

62 63 64 65



68 69

70 71

72 73

74 75

76 210

issues. There was no mention of Arab unity in his Alexandria speech; see Voice o f the Arabs, 26 July 1957 (BBC, No. 308,29 July 1957, pp. 16-17). PRO, Middleton to Hayter, 25 July 1957, VY10316/1, FO 371/128237; Scott to Rose, 1 August 1957, VY1015/86, FO 371/128223. PRO, Beeley to Middleton, 13 August 1957, VY10316/1, FO 371/128237. PRO, FO to Baghdad, Tel. 2042,20 August 1957, VY1015/98, FO 371/128224. On Soviet-Syrian relations, see Torrey, Syrian Politics, pp. 340-1. For details on the crisis, see Lesch, Syria and the United States, pp. 138-209; Seale, Struggle for Syria, pp. 289-306; D. Little, “Cold War and Covert Action: The United States and Syria,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 44 (1990), pp. 69-74. PRO, Caccia to FO, Tel. 477 Saving, 4 September 1957, FO 371/128225. The Canadians also believed that the Soviet threat was exaggerated. See CNA, RG 25, Roy to EA, Dispatch 94, 19 February 1957; Norman to EA, Tel. 52, 18 January 1957; Macdonnell to EA, Tel. 508,13 September 1957,5872/50162-B-40-2.1 CNA, RG 25, Canadian delegation to the UN to DEA, Tel. 2210,18 October 1957, 5872/ 50162-B-40. For similar assessments, see PRO, FO to Beirut, Tel. 1739, 15 October 1957, VY10316/7, 128237; USNA, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 696, 12 September 1957, 674.83/9-1257; Rockwell to Rountree, 15 October 1957, 674.83/10-1557; Rountree to Dulles, 4 November 1957,611.74/11-457. See also, Seale, Struggle for Syria, pp. 305-306; Lesch, Syria and the United States, pp. 181-3. CNA, RG 25, Beirut to DEA, Dispatch 46,29 January 1958,6142/50405-B-40-1.1. For the text, see Radio Damascus, BBC, 4 September 1957 (PRO, VY11316/5, FO 371/128257). For an evaluation of the agreement, see CNA, RG 25, MacDonnell to DEA, Dispatch 509, 10 September 1957,5872/50162-B-40. PRO, Adams to Rose, 21 November 1957, VY1015/359, FO 371/128233. PRO, Scott to Watson, 10 September 1957, JE1015/224, FO 371/125418. For a similar assessment, see CNA, RG 25, MacDonnell to DEA, Dispatch 509, 10 September 1957,5872/50162-B-40. Akram Houmai, “Suriya . . . Qa'ida lil-Qawmiyya al-'Arabiyya,” in Ittihad Misr wa-Suriya (n.p.: 1958), pp. 14-23. Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 203. PRO, Adams to Rose, 21 November 1957, VY1015/359, FO 371/128233; BBC, 17 November 1957 (VY10316/18, FO 371/128237); USNA, Heath (Beirut) to Secretary of State, Tel. 1617,19 November 1957,674.83/11-1957; Strong to Secretary of State, Tel. 1622,9 December 1957, 783.00/12-957. As a sequel to the meeting, ‘Aflaq announced on 9 December that the Ba'th was drafting a bill for a federal union with Egypt to be submitted to the Syrian and Egyptian governments. Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 94. See the memoirs of Sayyid Mari', Awraq Ayyami, Vol. 2 (Cairo: 1978), p. 392. See his speech at the opening session of the General Cooperative Conference in Cairo, Radio Cairo, 5 December 1957 (BBC, No. 421,7 December 1957, pp. 1-7); and the speech at Port Sa'id, Radio Cairo, 23 December 1957 (BBC, No. 435, 24 December 1957, pp. 2-4). Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 198-9.

Notes to pp. 36-40 77 CNA, RG 25, Norman to DEA, Tel. 52, 18 January 1957, 5872/50162-B-40; MecDonnell to DEA, Tel. 508, 13 September 1957, ibid.; Roy to DEA, Dispatch 702, 22 November 1957, ibid. See also Hourani’s interview in 1970 to Dandishli, Hizb al-Ba‘th, p. 219. 78 FRUS, 1958-60, Vol. 13, pp. 429-30. 79 CNA, RG 25, Roy to DEA, Dispatch 586,13 December 1956,5872/50162-B-40. 80 CNA, RG 25, Roy to DEA, Dispatch 94,19 February 1957,5872/50162-B-40. 81 On the agreement and Soviet-Syrian relations, see Torrey, Syrian Politics, pp. 368-70. 82 Lesch, Syria and the United States, p. 182; Torrey, Syrian Politics, p. 372. 83 Lesch, ibid., pp. 182-3; Seale, Struggle for Syria, p. 317. 84 PRO, Lord Hood (Washington) to FO, Tel. 631 Saving, 14 December 1957, VY1015/366, FO 371/128233. 85 PRO, Adams to Rose, 12 December 1957, VY1015/367; 19 December 1957, VY1015/372, FO 371/128233. On the ratification of the agreement, see Radio Damascus, 12 December 1957 (BBC, No.426,13 December 1957, p. 8). For the text of the communiqué, see Radio Damascus, 20 December 1957 (BBC, No. 434, 23 December 1957, p. 11). 86 CNA, RG 25, Roy to DEA, Dispatch 94,19 February 1957,5872/50162-B-40-2.1; Heeney (Washington) to DEA, Tel. 805,5 April 1957, ibid. 87 Seale, Struggle for Syria, pp. 146-7. 88 This description is based primarily on Mufti, Sovereign Creations, pp. 82-7. For a slightly different account, see Seale, Struggle for Syria, pp. 244-6; I. Rabinovich, Syria under the Ba'th 1963-66: The Army-Party Symbiosis (Jerusalem: 1972), p. 14. 89 By his own account, Bizri was an “enemy of the imperialists” who viewed the communists as his “friends.” See his interview with Mufti, Sovereign Creations, pp. 86-7. 90 Torrey, Syrian Politics, p. 350; Rabinovich, Syria under the Ba ‘th, p. 14; R. C. Frost, The United Arab Republic, 1958-1961: A Study in Arab Nationalism and Unity (Ph.D Dissertation, University of Denver, 1966), pp. 75-6. 91 Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 209; ‘Awni ‘Abd al-Muhsin Farsakh, al- Wahdafi alTajriba: Dirasa Tahliliya li-Wahdat 1958 (Beirut: 1980), p. 97; Ahmad Hamrush, Qissat Thawrat 23 Yulyu, Vol. 3 (Cairo: n.d.), p. 45; Dandishli, Hizb al-Ba'th, pp. 220-2. See also Riad’s and ‘Alwan’s interviews with al-Dustur, 15 and 22 February 1988. 92 On ‘Abd al-Nasir’s concerns about the position of the superpowers, see Mari', Awraq Ayyami, Vol. 2, p. 3%; Taha Riad, Qissat al-Wahda wa-al-Infisal (Beirut: 1974), p. 89. 93 USNA, RG 59, Hart to Secretary of State, Tel. 1099, 30 October 1957, 674.83/10-1557; Lodge (New York) to Secretary of State, Tel. 491, 7 November 1957, 611.74/11-757; Rountree to the Secretary, 4 November 1957, 611.74/11-457. Already in September 1957, the US notified Britain that ‘Abd al211

Notes to pp. 40-2 Nasir gave the impression of “having a desire to mend his fences with US.” PRO, Caccia to FO, Tel. 477 Saving, 4 September 1957, FO 371/128225. 94 USNA, RG 59, Dulles to Jidda, Tel. 713,20 November 1957,611.74/11-2057. 95 USNA, RG 59, Cairo to Department of State, Dispatch 571, 6 December 1957, 611.74/12-657. 96 USNA, RG 59, Dulles-Fawzi Memorandum of Conversation, 9 December 1957, 611.74/ 12-957. 97 USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1426, 11 December 1957, 783.00/12-1157. All correspondence concerning this issue was top secret and had limited distribution in the State Department. The same rationale was suggested by ‘Ali Sabri, the Acting Foreign Minister. He told Hare that “Egypt would have reason to be more apprehensive than [the] US [regarding Syria] since [the] Egyptians have to live in [the] area and could not escape [the] consequences.” See Tel. 1424, 12 December 1957, 674.00/12-1157. Later, Heikal described the meeting with Hare in a different way: “The message I was to give him was this: ‘We consider your alarm over a possible communist takeover in Syria exaggerated, and that it is itself a contributing factor in the present uncertainty. You are making things more diffi­ cult by your daily threats against Syria through Turkey and Iraq. In any case this is our responsibility, so please - hands off.’” See The Sphinx and the Commissar (New York: 1978), p. 86. 98 USNA, RG 59, Dulles to Cairo, Tel. 1600, 12 December 1957, 783.00/12-1157. This type of approach was also supported by the American ambassador in Cairo and the minister in Damascus; see Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1450,13 December 1957,783.00/12-1357; Strong to Secretary of State, Tel. 1658,12 December 1957, 783.00/12-1257. 99 USNA, RG 59, Herter to Cairo, Tel. 1619, 13 December 1957,783.00/12-1357. 100 USNA, RG 59, Herter to Cairo, Tel. 1635,16 December 1957,783.00/12-1657. 101 USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1463, 14 December 1957, 783.00/12-1357. 102 USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1558, 22 December 1957, 783.00/12-2357. To the Canadian ambassador ‘Abd al-Nasir complained that the US should “stop isolating” him and that he was worried about the spread of Communism in the Middle East and especially in Syria. CNA, RG 25, MacDonnell to DEA, Dispatch 734,20 December 1957,5872/50162-B-40. 103 See in this regard, USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1450, 13 December 1957,783.00/12-1357. 104 See in this connection Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 202, and his interesting compar­ ison with Muhammad ‘Ali’s legacy. 105 USNA, RG 59, Strong to Secretary of State, Tel. 1759,23 December 1957,783.00/ 12-2357; Tel. 1823,2 January 1958,783.00/1-253; Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 201-3. 106 For Bitar’s attitude, see USNA, RG 59, Strong to Secretary of State, Tel. 1512,25 November 1957, 611.74/11-2057. For Hourani’s attitude, see Tel. 1745, 21 December 1957,611.83/12-2157. 212

Notes to pp. 42-3 107 On the meeting, see USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation, 10 January 1958, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 2044,25 January 1958,611.83/1-2558. The officers were Captain Marwan Siba‘i, Aleppo Director of Police and Security; Second Lt. Adnan Jabiri (American-educated son of Hasan Jabiri, a landowner and former member of the People’s Party); and First Lt. Mustafa Tallas. On Hourani, Colonel Salih Mahdi al-Samaira’i, the Iraqi attaché in Beirut, reported in May 1957, that “the contacts of the American ambassador in Damascus with Akram Hawrani are no longer a secret to anyone.” Quoted in Mufti, Sovereign Creations, p. 84. On the Tallas family, see Dawn, “Ottoman Affinities,” p. 184. 108 Dandishli, Hizb al-Ba‘th, p. 214; ‘Aflaq, “Malamih al-Ittihad al-Suri-al-Misri,” in ‘Aflaq, Hourani and Bitar, Ittihad Misr wa-Suriya (n.p.: 1958), pp. 31-55. 109 Hamrush, Qissat Thawrat Yulyu, p. 49; Farsakh, al-Wahda fi al-Tajriba, p. 112; Huwaydi’s testimony in Hasan Abu Talib, “Nadwat Thalathun ‘Amm ‘ala alWahda,” al-Mustaqbal al-‘Arabi, No. 113 (1988), p. 160. This refutes Heikal’s allegations that ‘Abd al-Nasir was hardly familiar with Syria (Matar, Bisaraha ‘an ‘Abd al-Nasir, p. 142). It is true that before the union he had never been in Syria but through his regular contacts through the intelligence (the minister in charge of undercover operations was Kamal Rifa‘t), military (the Egyptian attaché was ‘Abd al-Muhsin Abu al-Nur) and foreign ministry (the Egyptian ambassador was Mahmud Riad), he gained some insights into the Syrian political system and society. 110 Quoted in Taha Riad (the editor of al-Kifah), Qissat al-Wahda wa-al-Inflsal, p. 97. 111 Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 210; Salah Nasr, ‘Abdal-Nasirwa-Tajribatal-Wahda (Cairo: 1976), pp. 118-19. 112 Ibid., p. 119. Farsakh claimed that the officers were so enthusiastic about a union that Amin al-Hafiz (later to become Syrian President) told Isma‘il: “We will give a word of honor that if ‘Abd al-Nasir instructed us to blow up Aleppo, we would have carried out the order.” See al-Wahda fi al-Tajriba, p. 99. See also Hamrush, Qissat Thawrat Yulyu, p. 47. 113 Ahmad ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda (Beirut?: 1962), pp. 90-1; Taha Riad, Qissat al-Wahda wa-al-Infisal, p. 90; Matar, Bisaraha ‘an ‘Abd alNasir, p. 143. 114‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, po. 90-91; Hamrush, Qissat Thawrat Yulyu, p. 47; Nasr, ‘Abd al-Nasir wa-Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 122. 115 For the text of the memorandum, see Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 211-13. This is probably a genuine document since an identical version appeared in ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, pp. 123-5; and in ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ 'ala Tajribat alWahda, pp. 92-6. According to the latter, only twenty officers (of the twenty-four comprising the Council) signed the document (p. 97). For further details on the 11 January meeting, see Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 31-2; Seale, Struggle for Syria, p. 320; Mufti, Sovereign Creations, pp. 90-1; USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 1917, 14 January 1958, 674.83/1-1458; Rockwell to Rountree, 21 January 1958,780.5/1-2158. 116 Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 214; ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, p. 126. Riad later recalled that the Ba‘th leaders were present at his house when he had been notified 213

Notes to pp. 43-5 about the army’s memorandum. See his interview with al-Dustur, IS February 1988. See also ‘Alwan’s interview, ibid., 22 February 1988. 117 A short note, on page 7 (!) of al-Ahram (16 January 19S8), stated that the president met the Syrian officers. 118 The most authoritative account is given by Heikal, who claims that it is based on the original protocol found in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s archive at Manshiyat al-Bakri. See Sanawat al-Ghalayan, Vol. 1 (Cairo: 1988), pp. 274-6. HeikaT s description is more detailed that the one appearing in his old book. Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 33-6. See also Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 216; Frost, The UAR, pp. 104-9; ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, pp. 126-7; Mari’, Awraq Ayyami, Vol. 2, pp. 396-7; Riad’s interview, al-Dustur, 15 February 1988; ‘Alwan’s interview, ibid., 22 February 1988; USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1819, 23 January 1958, 674.83/1-2358. 119 For the photograph, see Matar, Bisaraha 'an ‘Abd al-Nasir„ p. 144. 120 According to Riad, Bitar claimed that he personally favored a union (wahda), see his Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 215. In contrast, Heikal argued that Bitar had said that the Syrian cabinet authorized him to discuss a union. See his Sanawat al-Ghalayan, p. 278. A third version was given by ‘Azm who claimed that Bitar was not autho­ rized by the cabinet to negotiate anything with ‘Abd al-Nasir, but only to “study his opinion.” See Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, p. 128. More on Bitar’s visit, see USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 1943, 16 January 1958, 674.83/1-1658; Tel. 2010,22 January 1958,674.83/1-2258. Bitar’s visit passed almost unnoticed by the Egyptian media (al-Ahram, 17 January 1958). 121 For the text of a memorandum formulated in the Cairo discussions, see Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 216. The same text, with minor alterations, was given in ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, pp. 127-8. See also the description in Heikal, Sanawat al-Ghalayan, pp. 279-80. 122 USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1803, 21 Janaury 1958, 674.83/1-2158. 123 USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 2040, 24 January 1958, 674.83/1-2458. It is probable that ‘Azm was voicing also the position of Bakdash, who was not represented in cabinet. For ‘Azm’s criticism of the federation plan, see his Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, pp. 130-41. Hoping to forestall the elimination of Syrian parties, ‘Azm made a last-ditch attempt to organize his own party. The US ambas­ sador in Damascus assessed that ‘Azm’s new party was “intended [to] provide legality and numerical strength [which would] enable Communist-*Azm-army collaborators to block, retard or water down [the] union, and gain fullest represen­ tation in any one-party system if [the] union [was] effected.” See USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 2013,22 January 1958,674.83/1-2258; BBC, No. 452,17 January 1958, p. i. 124 This is the claim of Riad, whom I rind as the most trustworthy and convincing narra­ tive of the Egyptian-Syrian talks; see Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 217. 125 Al-Ahram, 26 January 1958. 126 Radio Cairo, 28 January 1958 (BBC, No. 462,29 January 1958, pp. 1-3). 214

Notes to pp. 45-7 127 Al-Ahram, 28 January 1958. It was further reported that the name would be either “The United Arab State” (al-Dawla al- ‘Arabiyya al-Muwahhada) or “the United Arab Republic” (al-Jumhuriyya al- ‘Arabiyya al-Muwahhada). It should be noted that the newspaper used the terms wahda (union) and ittihad (federation) inter­ changeably. 128 Al-Ahram, 1 February 1958. Fayez Sayegh attempted to explain the reasons for the selection of this specific name, see Arab Unity: Hope and Fulfillment, pp. 182-3. 129 For the text in Arabic, see Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 218-20. 130 USNA, RG 59, Cairo to Department of State, Dispatch 726, 24 January 1958, 611.74/ 1-2458. The argument that the union was more or less forced upon Egypt was also presented by Sabri, Mari', Fathi Radwan, and Baghdadi - all prominent members within the Egyptian élite. See references in J. Jankowski, “Arab Nationalism in ‘Nasserism’ and Egyptian State Policy, 1952-1958,” in J. Jankowski and I. Gershoni (eds), Rethinking Nationalism in the Arab Middle East (New York: 1997), p. 165. 131 Eisenhower Presidential Library, Hare Raymond, Oral History Interview, OH-149. 132 U. Dann, King Hussein and the Challenge of Arab Radicalism, 1955-1967 (New York: 1989), p. 169. 133 See, in particular, ‘Abd al-Latif Baghdadi, Mudhakkirat ‘Abd al-Latif Baghdadi, Vol. 2 (Cairo: 1977), p. 38. 134 In the past, the Arabic language did not differentiate among the ideas of union, federation and confederation. These were all concepts imported from the West. Later, a distinction was made between ittihad (to denote federation) and wahda (to denote union). It seems to me, however, that most of the people, including some of the leaders, were unfamiliar with this distinction. On the problematic use of these terms, see USNA, Intelligence Report, No. 7689,21 March 1958 (a copy found in CNA, RG 25/6138). 135 For details on the discussions in Syrian cabinet, see ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, pp. 136-9. 136 USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 2110, 31 January 1958, 674.83/2-158. 137 The following story may throw some light on the process of decision making in the Arab world. In 1969, former US Ambassador in Cairo, John Badeau, recalled that Abd al-Nasir described the decision of the Iraqi ruler to take control of Kuwait in June 1961 in the following way: “The trouble with all you people [in the West].. .is that you make things too complicated. I think it was very much simpler. I think Qasim and his chief of staff went to the men’s room one morning, and one said to the other: ‘Why don’t we take Kuwait?’ And the other one said: Well, it’s a good idea. Let’s do it. That is the way many of our decisions are made [my emphasis].” See J. F. Kennedy Library, Oral History Interview with John S. Badeau, 25 February 1969. Whether ‘Abd al-Nasir was referring also to himself remains an open ques­ tion. 138 ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, p. 141. 139 For examples, see Voice of the Arabs, 23 January; Ha ’aretz, al-Akhbar, 24 January; 215

Notes to p. 47 New York Times, 27 January; al-Musawwar, 31 Janaury 1958. Heikal claimed that the formation of the UAR dealt “a heavy blow to the imperialist force which attacked our people in 1958 - the Baghdad Pact” (Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 17). 140 The Iraqi foreign minister was under the impression that during the meeting Dulles had promised to come to Iraq’s aid with full support, including military aid. He also expected “a more forceful lead from [the] US in opposing the union.” See USNA, RG 59, Gallman to Secretary of State, Tels. 1268-1269, 4 February 1958, 674.83/2-458. Dulles’ version was that he asserted: “if out of the confusion and dissentions which might accompany the effort to force Syria to amalgamate with Egypt there came an attack mounted with Soviet weapons, and perhaps volunteers, then the US on request would be prepared to intervene under the Eisenhower Doctrine.” See Dulles to Beirut, Tel. 3058,1 February 1958,674.83/2-158. 141 USNA, RG 59, Gallman to Secretary of State, Tel. 1283, 6 February 1958, 674.83/2-658. For the cool American response, see Dulles to Baghdad, Tel. 2050, 8 February 1958,674.83/2-858; FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 419-20. 142 At the end of the conference it was concluded: “any Arab initiative in the direction of forming an alternative expression of Arab unity would have the support of all members of the Baghdad Pact and of the United States.” See PRO, Bowker to FO, Tel. 223,29 January 1958, VY10316/12, FO 371/134386; USNA, RG 59, Dulles’ Circular Tel. 702, 1 February 1958, 674.83/2-158. For more information, see Podeh, Questfor Hegemony, pp. 236-7. 143 From the Arab side it was Akram Hourani, especially after the UAR break-up, who advanced this argument, see his interview with Dimashq al-Masa’, 8 June 1962. See also Jasim ‘Alwan’s interview with al-Dustur, 22 February 1988. 144 This phrase often repeated in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches during the union. For an example, see Voice of the Arabs, 9 March 1958 (BBC, No. 497,11 March 1958, p. 3). For the same argument by the military, see interview with Brig. Gen. Kama! ‘Abd al-Hamid, the Director of Army Culture and training, MENA, 10 February 1958 (BBC, No. 474,12 February 1958, p. 2). This argument was also repeated by Arab intellectuals, see e.g., Sayegh, al-Fikra at- ‘Arabiyya fi Misr, pp. 276-7. 145 In this regard, the pan-Arab thinker Tzzat Darwaza represented a familiar Arab theme: the existence of the Jewish state in the midst of the Arab world turned the Egyptian-Syrian union into a “necessity” which would be able to “blow up the monstrous Jewish state.” See al-Wahda al- ‘Arabiyya, p. 639. A caricature in the Lebanese newspaper al-Sayyad (30 January 1958), shows an Egyptian-Syrian hand shake that squashes the Jewish state which is in the middle. On Israeli fears, see Ha’aretz, 21 February, 7 March 1958. 146 USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 2019, 23 Janaury 1958, 674.83/1-2358. For details on the tripartite agreement, see Podeh, Quest for Hegemony, pp. 126-32. 147 USNA, RG 59, Heiter to Ankara, Tel. 23,25 January 1958,674.83/1-2558. When the Lebanese president was notified of the American position, he reportedly exclaimed: “This is like giving a green light to [the] Egyptians to go ahead.” See McClintock to Secretary of State, Tel. 2546,27 January 1958,674.83/1-2758. 216

Notes to pp. 47-50 148 FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 414-15. For an oral Statement of the State Department, see USNA, RG 59, Tel. Circular 701, 1 February 1958, 674.83/1-3158. 149 This was, for example, the contention of ‘Azm, see Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, p. 110. 150 Hare observed that during the talk ‘Abd al-Nasir had difficulty “in keeping [the] chronology of events straight.” He remarked that the latter’s “confused memory” might lead to a “habit of rewriting history,” and that “getting [the] story from [the] horse’s mouth in his case may well represent his firm recollection but still be histor­ ically defective”; see FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 427-9. 151 See, e.g., al-Hayat, 4 February; al-Ahram, 1-2 March; al-Akhbar, 1 March 1958. ‘Abd al-Nasir himself strengthened the image as he visited the Umayyid Mosque and Salah al-Din’s tomb in Damascus on 1 March 1958. Moreover, in his speeches he frequently compared between Salah al-Din’s victory over the Crusaders and the formation of the UAR. Salah al-Din, of-course, was ethnically Kurd and not Arab, but this fact did not prevent the Arab national movement from depicting him as one of its heroes. 152 ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 102. The same argument was presented by the Arab intellectual Fayiz Sayegh: “It [the UAR] signifies the first real triumph of Arab nationalism over political fragmentation inflicted on the Arab world by foreign Powers between 1798 and 1922" {Arab Unity, p. 210). This argu­ ment was often repeated in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches. Chapter 3 1959)

Establishing the Union: The Political Sphere (March 1958-February

1 Al-Ahram, 1 February 1958. 2 See press release of Egyptian mission to the United Nations, 2 February 1958. For an Arabic version, see Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 219-20. 3 On the participants and content of this session, see Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 219; ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, p. 143-4. 4 Al-Ahram, 2 February 1958. 5 For an English version, see Sayegh, Arab Unity, pp. 228-30. 6 Quoted in Al-Hayat, 6 February 1958. 7 Al-Ahram, 6 February 1958. 8 For details on the alleged plot, see al-Hayat, 14,16February \95S\ al-Ahram, 14-15 February 1958; Ha ’aretz, 16,18February 1958. For a denial of his alleged involve­ ment, see statement of the Druze leader Hasan al-Atrash, al-Hayat, 26 February 1958. 9 Radio Cairo, 23 February 1958 (BBC, No. 485,25 February 1958, p. 1). 10 Radio Cairo, 22 February 1958 (BBC, No. 484,24 February 1958, p. 1). 11 CNA, RG 25, MacDonnell to DEA, Dispatch 118,5 March 1958,6142/50405-B40-2.1 12 See, e.g., his speeches in Damascus, Radio Cairo and Damascus, 24 February 1958 (BBC, No. 486,26 February 1958, pp. 4-6); 9 March 1958 (BBC, No. 497,11 March 1958, pp. 3-7); 11 March 1958 (BBC, No. 499,13 March 1958, pp. 4-7). 217

Notes to pp. 50-3 13 For the text of the provisional constitution, see Radio Cairo and Damascus, S March 1958 (BBC, No. 494, 7 March 1958, pp. 2-15). For an Arabic version, see ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, pp. 177-82. For a summary of the main points, see PRO, Chancery Beirut to the Levant Department, 7 March 1958, VY10316/167, FO 371/134390; ISA, FO Background paper, No. 391/S, 3752/9. 14 Frost, The UAR, p. 159. 15 On the decree, see Radio Damascus, 6 March 1958 (BBC, No. 495,8 March 1958, p. 5). For the decree specifying the responsibilities of the vice-presidents, see MENA, 26 March 1958 (BBC, No. 511,27 March 1958, p. 1). 16 For a full list, see Radio Damascus, 6 March 1958 (BBC, No. 495, 8 March 1958, p. 5). For personal details on Syrians ministers, see USNA, RG 59, Strong to Dorman, 7 March 1958, 786B. 13/3-758. See also, ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar alKabir, pp. 242-8. 17 Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 222. Compare with the negative tone described in ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa ’ 'ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 110; ‘Azm, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 3, p. 151. 18 For assessments of the new cabinets, see USNA, RG 59, Ameson to the Secretary, 6 March 1958,786B. 13/3-658; PRO, Rose’sMinute, lOMarch 1958, VY10316/17, FO 371/134390; ISA, Background Paper, 390/S, 9 March 1958,3752/9. 19 Radio Cairo and Damascus, 12 March 1958 (BBC, No. 500,14 March 1958, p. 5). See also the steps taken by Sarraj, the minister of interior in the Syrian region, following the decree, al-Hayat, 19 March 1958. 20 Radio Cairo and Damascus, 12 March 1958 (BBC, No. 500, 14 March 1958, pp. 4-5). 21 Radio Cairo, 31 March 1958 (BBC, No. 516,2 April 1958, p. 1); ISA, FO Weekly Survey, No. 270,2 April 1958,3752/9. 22 It is interesting to note that ‘Abd al-Nasir contemplated placing an Egyptian (Baghdadi, ‘Amir or Sadat) as the head of the Syrian Executive Council, but was persuaded that such a step would unnecessarily alienate the Syrians. See ‘Abd alKarim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 106; al-Bizri, al-Tammi'un, p. 16. According to the decree, the EC would be headed by the senior vice-president, i.e., Baghdadi in the Egyptian region and Hourani in the Syrian region (since the latter was speaker of parliament before the union). See ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar alKabir, p. 246. CNA, RG 25, MacDonnell to DEA, Dispatch 217, 17 April 1958, 6142/50405-B-40-3.1. 23 ISA, Background Paper, No. 414/S, 20 June 1958,3752/9. Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 230. 24 Al-Ahram, 22 February 1958; ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir, p. 280. 25 Al-Ahram, 25 February 1958; ‘Abd al-Mawla, al Inhiyar al-Kabir, p. 280; Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 116; Farsakh, al-Wahdafi al-Tajriba, p. 286. Sami al-Jundi claimed that a meeting of the Ba‘th Regional Command to approve the dissolution was held on 1 February; see his al-Ba ‘th, p. 76. Farsakh claimed that the decision was first endorsed by several members of the Ba‘th National Command who were in Cairo during the negotiations for the union (Hourani, Bitar, the Jordanian ‘Abdallah al218

Notes to pp. 53-4

26 27 28 29 30





35 36


Rimawi and the Lebanese Jubran Majdalani), and then by the Syrian Regional Command. The decision, according to Farsakh, was adopted unanimously with the exception of ‘Abd al-Karim Zuhur, the owner of the party’ organ al-Jumhur, see alWahda fi al-Tajriba, pp. 105,285-6. The decision to dissolve the party was finally endorsed by the Third All-Arab convention of the Ba‘th held in Beirut in late August 1959; see Dandishli, Hizb al-Ba'th, p. 232. N. Van Dam, “The Struggle for Power in Syria and the Ba‘th Party (1958-1966),” Orient, Vol. 14 (1973), p. 10; al-Jundi, al-Ba'th, pp. 80-1. Al-Hayat, Ma'ariv, Ha’aretz, 7 February. See Bakdash’s statement to the Communist organ, al-Nur, 3 February 1958. Jundi, al-Ba ‘th, p. 78; Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 221 ; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 90-1; ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ 'ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 125. Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 133. Quoted from Minutes of the Tripartite Union, in W. Khalidi and Y. Ibish (eds), Arab Political Documents (Beirut: 1963), Meeting of 19 March 1963, p. 109 (hereafter APD). This point was further discussed in the meeting of 6 April 1963; see pp. 137-8. Bitar, however, claimed that he was against the idea from the very begin­ ning. See also Frost, The UAR, p. 158; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 91-2. PRO, Scott to Rose, 8 May 1958, VY1015/47, FO 371/134384; Frost, The UAR, p. 168. It should be noted, however, that al-Sahafa, published in Beirut, became the party’s semi-official organ; see Jundi, al-Ba'th, p. 78. For the text, see Voice of the Arabs, 8 April 1958 (BBC, No. 520, 10 April 1958, pp. 1-2). During the 1963 Unity talks, ‘Abd al-Nasir claimed that Hourani “wanted to become the absolute master of Syria”; see APD, meeting of 6 April 1963, p. 138. On Ba‘th activity and the memorandum, see USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. G-66,6 September 1958,786B.00/9-658; Hart to Secretary of State, Tel. 793,22 September 1958,786B.00/ 9-2258; Atherton to Secretary of State, Tel. G3, 21 September 1958, 786B.00/9-2158; Tel. G-l, 21 September 1958, 786B.00/9-2158. Ahmad Hamrush claimed that ninety-four Syrian officers were immediately trans­ ferred, a move that was probably initiated by the Ba‘th; see Qissat Thawrat Yulyu, Vol. 3, p. 60. APD, Meeting of 19 March 1963, p. 101. A few months later, Bizri resigned and left for Damascus where he engaged himself in opposition activities. On his resignation from the army, see BBC, No. 508, 24 March 1958, p. 1. There are conflicting accounts of his resignation or dismissal. See his version in al-Tami‘un, p. 23; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 81-2; ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa ’ 'ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 132-3. On the circumstances that led Bizri to resign from the Planning Council, see ibid., pp. 211-12. Bizri himself was very critical of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s personal rule, see his al-Tami‘un, pp. 24-5,29-30. On the measures, see PRO, Scott to Rose, 14 May 1958, VY1015/47; Chancery Ankara to the Levant Department, 20 June 1958, VY1015/63, FO 371/134384. ISA, Background Paper, No. 414/S, 20 June 1958,3752/9; Ma'ariv, 13 March 1958; alJarida, 4 May 1958; Frost, The UAR, pp. 160-1. According to press reports from 219

Notes to pp. 54-7

38 39


41 42


44 45 46 47 48

49 50

51 52 53 54


Damascus, seven Egyptian officers were killed during a clash with Syrian officers in Aleppo. See PRO, Johnston (Amman) to FO, Tel. 606, 2 June 1958; Wright (Baghdad) to FO, Tel. 944, 2 June 1958, VY1015/55; Scott to Rose, 8 July 1958, VY1015/70, FO 371/134384. Al-Hayat, 13 June 1958. For various reports, see al-Ayyam, 11 December 1958; al-Hayat, 17 August; 16,28 December 1958; PRO, Scott to Rose, 30 April 1958, VY1015/46, FO 371/134384. An Israeli source mentioned ten newspapers being closed down without giving any details. See ISA, Background Paper, No. 414/S, 20 June 1958,3752/9. See also alBilad (Jordan), 27 April 1958; Ha’aretz, 30 April 1958. According to The Times, only four newspapers retained their licenses out of a former total of about forty (5 January 1959). Al-Ahram, 26 March 1958. For the text, see the issue of 27 March 1958. In the preamble it was written that the aim of the agreement was “to bring up an Arab generation loyal to its homeland” (watanihi). Akhbar al-Yawm, 4 March 1958. For various reports, see: PRO, Scott to Rose, 14 May 1958, VY1015/49, FO 371/134384; USNA, RG 59, Haring to Secretary of State, Tel. 978, 20 October 1958, 786B. 14/10-2058; ISA, Background paper, No. 390/S, 9 March 1958, No. 414/S, 20 June 1958, 3752/9; Ha’aretz, 17 March 1958; al-Hayat, 17 June 1958. On the role of the Egyptian teachers in Arab countries, see Podeh, The Quest for Hegemony, pp. 25-6; interview with Prof. Itzhak Hason, from the Hebrew University, who was a student in Syria during the union. Voice of the Arabs, 8 April 1958 (BBC, No. 520, 10 April 1958, pp. 1-2). PRO, Scott to Rose, 10 April 1958, VY1015/36, FO 371/134383. The law also specified certain exceptions to these regulations; see USNA, American Embassy Cairo to Department of State, 3 July 1958,786B. 13/7-358. CNA, RG 25,6142/50405-B-40-2.2. This was one of the Syrian complaints against the Egyptians following the break­ up of the union, see Radio Damascus, 27 August 1962 {BBC, No. 1035,31 August 1962, p. 4). R. Cairo, 19 May 1960 {BBC, No. 339,21 May 1960, p. 6). ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa ’ ’ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 126. For an attempt to clarify the responsibilities of each position, see ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir, pp. 250-2. ‘Abd al-Karim, ibid., pp. 124-5. Ibid., pp. 126-7. Ibid., pp. 130-1. A British report from Ankara in June 1958 claimed that “there is general discontent and disillusionment in Syria about the United Arab Republic. Shukry Kuwwatli is coming under heavy fire for having sponsored the Union and is himself disillusioned about it now.” PRO, Chancery Ankara to Levant Department, 20 June 1958, VY1015/77, 134385.

Notes to pp. 57-60 55 For details on the Arab Federation, see Podeh, Quest for Hegemony, pp. 237-40. This federation was dissolved following the fall of the Iraqi monarchy, in July 1958. 56 The text of the letters exchanged by ‘Abd al-Nasir and al-Husayni was published in al-Siyasa, 22 February 1958. See also M. Shemesh, The Palestinian Entity, 1959-1974,2nd revised edn. (London: 1996), p. 28. 57 Following the signing of the pact, Heikal wrote that “it had been known that the Imam was an eccentric figure, but until the Jeddah meeting [where the pact was signed] the degree of eccentricity had not been realized”; see Cutting the Lion’s Tail: Suez Through Egyptian Eyes (London: 1986), p. 102. 58 On the negotiations and the proclamation, see CNA, RG 25, Washington to DEA, Tel. 336, 13 February 1958, 6138/50405-40-2; MacDonnell to DEA, Tel. 58, 3 March 1958,6142/50405-B-40-2.1; Dispatch 118,5 March 1958, ibid.; R. Sana'a, 13 March 1958 (BBC, No. 501,15 March 1958, pp. 2-7); Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 196-7; ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir, p. 235; Y. Vered, Haficha u-Milhama be-Teyman (Tel Aviv: 1967) (Hebrew), pp. 15-16. 59 On this attempt, which was uncovered by Sarraj at a press conference on 5 March 1958, see D. Holden and R. Jones, The House of Saud (London: 1982), p. 196. Heikal claimed that Quwwatli was the one who strongly favored Yemen’s adher­ ence to the UAR; see Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 198. 60 Heikal claimed that Yemen’s adherence was tantamount to a “truce with reaction”; see Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 198. See also ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir, p. 235. 61 F. Qubain, Crisis in Lebanon (Washington: 1961), p. 62. 62 Ibid., p. 42. 63 L. Meo, Lebanon Improbable Nation (Bloomington: 1965), pp. 160-1. 64 A detailed list of alleged UAR (especially Syrian) activities may be found in Malik’s speech before the UN on 6 June 1958. For the text, see Qubain, Crisis in Lebanon, pp. 181-96. 65 For Israeli sources, see ISA, FO Lebanese files 3745/1-2, 3752/8.1 would like to thank Oren Barak from the Hebrew University for providing me with this informa­ tion. For American and Arab sources, see R. Murphy, Diplomat among Warriors (London: 1964), 490; M. Kerr, “The Lebanese Civil War,” in E. Luard (ed.), The International Regulation of Civil Wars (London: 1972), pp. 75, 88. 66 Qubain, Crisis in Lebanon, pp. 171-2. This conclusion may also derive from Heikal’s account, which reveals that in late May ‘Abd al-Nasir suggested to the US a “joint approach” aimed at achieving a peaceful solution to the Lebanese problem. The US was to “deal” with Sham'un, while ‘Abd al-Nasir was to “deal” with the Lebanese national opposition. According to Heikal, ‘Abd al-Nasir was willing to accept the Lebanese compromise that Sham'un would step down and replaced by Fu’ad Shihab, the Commander of the Lebanese Army. See Heikal, Sanawat alGhalayan, pp. 327-8. US documents substantiate the existence of this offer, see F. Gerges, “The Lebanese Crisis of 1958: The Risks of Inflated Self-Importance,” The Beirut Review, No. 5 (September 1993), p. 95. For similar assessments of ‘Abd al221

Notes to pp. 60-2




70 71 72 73 74

75 76

77 78


80 81

82 222

Nasir’s aims, see Murphy, Diplomat among Warriors, p. 500; Kerr, “The Lebanese Civil War,” pp. 88-9. This is the main theme of Podeh, The Quest for Hegemony. See also a paper submitted by the British Steering Committee for Middle Eastern Affairs, entitled “Egyptian-Iraqi Relations,” PRO, 23 November 1959, LR 20/62 (copy found in CNA, RG25/6139). See, e.g., USNA, RG 59, “Intelligence Report on Possible Egyptian-Syrian Involvement in Iraqi Army Coup,” 14 July 1958, 787.00/7-1458. See also Dann, Iraq Under Qassem, p. 69. Later, in 1963, ‘Abd al-Nasir admitted that the UAR had paid - via ‘Aflaq - to the Iraqi Ba‘th the sum of 70,000 pounds during the year 1958-59. SetAPD, 15 March 1963, 2nd Meeting, p. 86. It should be emphasized, however, that the Iraqi Ba‘th was then a small party and played a negligible role (if any) in the military coup. For examples, see H. Ram, “Iraq-UAR Relations 1958-63: The Genesis, Escalation and Culmination of a Propaganda War,” Orient, Vol. 3 (1993), pp. 423-4. Dann, Iraq under Qassem, pp. 70-1. Akhbar al-Yawm, 23 March 1959 (quoted in Dann, Iraq under Qassem, p. 76). ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 136-7. Be’eri, Army Officers, p. 179. For ‘Abd al-Nasir’s statement, see al-Ahram, 15 July 1958; Heikal, The Sphinx and the Commissar, p. 94. During the UAR-Iraqi propa­ ganda war that followed the Shawwaf revolt in March 1959, Heikal published documents reportedly offering UAR support for Iraq. See al-Ahram, 2 April 1959 (USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 758, 4 April 1959, 686B.00/4-459). Al-Ahram, 17 July 1958. On ‘Abd al-Nasir’s visit to Moscow, see Heikal, The Sphinx and the Commissar, pp. 96-100. Sadat claimed that ‘Abd al-Nasir tried unsuccessfully to persuade the Soviets to support the Iraqi revolution; see In Search of Identity (London: 1978), p. 153. For‘Abd al-Nasir’s statements, see R. Cairo and Damascus, 18-19 July 1958 {BBC, No. 606,21 July 1958, pp. 2-6). For the text of the agreement, see R. Cairo and Damascus, 19 July 1958 {BBC, No. 606,21 July 1958, p. 12). For the text of the four Iraqi speeches, see ibid., pp. 6-10. On the agreement, see USNA, RG 59, Hart to Secretary of State, Tel. 183,19 July 1958,686B.87/7-1958. For the text in Arabic, see al-Ahram, 20 July 1958. Dann, Iraq under Qassem, p. 73; Be’eri, Army Officers, p. 180. Behind the scenes, ‘Arif had allegedly told ‘Abd al-Nasir that “Qasim’s fate would be like that of General Najib [of Egypt]”; see M. Khadduri, Republican Iraq: A Study in Iraqi Politics since the Revolution o f1958 (London: 1969), p. 87. ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa ’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 138. For the text of the speeches, see R. Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad, 22 July 1958 {BBC, No. 609, 24 July 1958, pp. 1-11). For the text in Arabic, see al-Ahram, 23 July 1958. On ‘Aflaq’s visit, see PRO, Scott to Rose, 21 August 1958, VY1015/77, FO

Notes to pp. 62-4


84 85 86

87 88

89 90 91

92 93 94 95 % 97 98 99

371/134385; Heikal, MaAlladhi Jarafi Suriya, p. 93; Frost, The UAR, p. 172; APD, Meeting of 19 March 1963, p. 109; Dann, Iraq under Qassem, p. 72; Jundi, al-Ba‘th, pp. 78-9. On the reaction of the Aleppean community to the events in Iraq, see USNA, RG 59, Atherton (US Consul in Aleppo) to the Department of State, Dispatch 6,24 July 1958,787.00A7-2458; Dispatch 8, 30 July 1958,787.00/7-3058. ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 160-64; USNA, RG 59, Hart to Secretary of State, Tel. 467,13 August 1958,686B.87/8-1358. ‘Abd al-Karim, ibid. p. 166. Ibid., p. 167. This letter led to rumors that Bizri sent a letter to Qasim in which he warned the Iraqi leader against joining the UAR; see, e.g., al-Kifah, 22 January 1959. ‘Abd al-Karim claimed that Sarraj and the Egyptians were behind these misleading rumors. See Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 167. Bizri himself did not refer to the letter, but refuted other rumors that he had visited Iraq; see al-Tami‘un, P 11 On 27 July, he stated that “external crises should not impede internal building” (A/Ahram, 28 July 1958). On 14 December 1958, ‘Abd al-Nasir told William Rountree, US Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, who had been touring the Middle East since 8 December, that several approaches regarding Iraqi-UAR union were made after the July revolution but he [‘Abd al-Nasir] “discouraged as being premature.” See FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 507-8. See also Heikal, al-Ahram, 17 November 1961 (translated in Dann, Iraq under Qassem, p. 76); idem. The Sphinx and the Commissar, p. 100; idem, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 93-4. See, e.g., USNA, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1435,7 November 1958,611.86B 11-758; FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, p. 508. See ‘Abd al-Nasir’s talk with Rountree on 14 December 1958, FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, p. 508.1have found no evidence for such a meeting in the archival material. CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 422, 15 May 1959, 6139/50405-40-8.2; Washington to DEA, Tel. 2916, 28 November 1958, 6138/50405-40-5.2; Riad Taha, Qissat al-Wahda wa-al-Infisal, p. 141. Dann, Iraq under Qassem, p. 76. On Qasim’s position, see ibid., pp. 74-6; Be’eri, Army Officers, pp. 180-1. On the Iraqi Communist Party, see M. F. Sluglett and P. Sluglett, Iraq since 1958 (London: 1990), pp. 62-6. USNA, RG 59, Yost (Rabat) to Secretary of State, Tel. 298, 29 August 1958, 686B.87/8-2958. On the ‘Arif-Qasim rift, see Dann, Iraq under Qasim, pp. 77-90; Khadduri, Republican Iraq, pp. 92-8; Sluglett and Sluglett, Iraq, pp. 58-60. E. Childers, The Road to Suez: A Study ofWestem-Arab Relations (London: 1962), pp. 341-2. On ‘Asali, see USNA, Hart to Secretary of State, Tel. 7, 2 July 1958, 786B.12/7-258. APD, Meeting of 19 March 1963, p. 110. 223

Notes to pp. 64-6 100 On Hourani’s activities and his dispute with Sarraj, see USNA, RG 59, Hare to Department of State, Dispatch 190,15 September 1958,786B.00/9-1558; Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 889,7 October 1958,786B.00/10-758; PRO, Scott to Rose, 24 September 1958, FO 371/134385; al-Hayat, 13 June 1958. 101 USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1435,7 November 1958,611.86B/ 11-758. 102 On the composition of the new government, see CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Dispatch 563, 27 November 1958, 6143/50405-B-40-3.2; ‘Abd al-Mawla, alInhiyar al-Kabir, pp. 253-5. 103 Al-Mahdawi Court was set up by the revolutionary Iraqi regime to try former Iraqi statesmen. See USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1069, 7 October 1958,786B.00/10-758. 104 For further details on the new government, see USNA, RG 59, Haring (Damascus) to Secretary of State, Tel. 902,8 October 1958,786B.0Q/10-858; Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1075, 8 October 1958,786B.00/1O-858; Tel. 1080, 8 October 1958, 786B.00/ 10-858; Tel. G-126, 18 October 1958, 786B.00/ 10-1858. For personal details on CC members, see Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. G-120,170ctober 1958, 786B.00/10-1758; PRO, Scott to Hadow, 16 October 1958, VY1015/88, FO 371/134385. 105 PRO, Crosthwaite (Beirut) to Lloyd, Dispatch 14,7 February 1959, VG1017/2, FO 371/141896; CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Dispatch 563,27 November 1958,6143/ 50405-B-40-3.2. 106 For various assessments of the implications, see USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1080, 8 October 1958,786B.00/10-858; Tel. 1098,9 October 1958, 786B.00/10-958; Haring to Secretary of State, Tel. 902, 8 October 1958, 786B.00/10-858. PRO, Scott to Hadow, 16 October 1958, VY1015/88, 134385; ISA, Jerusalem to all, 9 October 1958,3744/11. See also ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa ’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 176-82. 107 Al-Nahar, 8 October 1958. 108 This was the term used by ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 192. 109 Mari4, Awraq Ayyami, Vol. 2, p. 402. 110 ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 194. 111 USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1435,7 November 1958,611.86B/ 11-758. 112 For a summary of the statement, see ISA, “Sample of Arab Press,” No. 445, 8 January 1959,3744/7; Batatu, The Old Social Classes, p. 861. 113 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s interview with Russy Karanjia, Chief Editor of the Indian maga­ zine Blitz, see MENA, 17 April 1959 (BBC, No. 5,20 April 1959, pp. 1-10); USNA, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1435,7 November 1958,611.86B/11-758. 114 The Shu'ubiyya movement during the ‘Abbasid Empire was a non-Arab, Persiandominated, class which refused to recognize the privileged position of the Arabs. For the use of the term, see Dann, Iraq Under Qassem, p. 162, note 14. For the text of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speech, see R. Cairo, 23 December 1958 (BBC, No. 740, 29 December 1958, pp. 1-10). For an analysis of the term, see USNA, RG 59, Jones 224

Notes to pp. 66-8 (Damascus) to Department of State, Dispatch 219, 12 January 1959, 786B.00/1-1259. For more information on the uses of this term in history, see S. A. Hanna and G. H. Gardner, “Al-Shu‘ubiyyah Up-Dated: A Study of the 20th Century Revival of an Eighth Century Concept,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 20 (1966), pp. 335-51. 115 The number of the arrests varies: see, The Times, 5 January 1959 (less than 250); al-Jarida, 3 January 1959 (700). For further details, see PRO, Edden to Hadow, 2 January 1959, VG1016/1, FO 371/141899; Crosthwaite to Lloyd, Dispatch 14, 7 February 1959, VG1017/2, FO 371/1418%. Bakdash continued to attack the UAR, see his speech in Moscow on 2 February 1959: ISA, Moscow to FO, Tel. 81/T, 3 February 1959, 3744/11; and his interview with the French Communist magazine L'Humanite, quoted in Ma'ariv, 24 March 1959. 116 For an example of an article that dealt with the differences between communism and Arab nationalism, see Ruz al-Yusuf, 29 December 1958. 117 FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, p. 508; USNA, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1435, 7 November 1958,611.86B/11-758. 118 USNA, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1900, 26 December 1958, 611.86B/12-2658. For another reflection on the “domino theory,” see Tel. 1435,7 November 1958,611.86B/ 11-758. 119 FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, p. 516. This position enabled ‘Abd al-Nasir to threat in February 1959 that he would call off the campaign against Iraqi communists unless British, French and Turkish press and radio stopped attacking him. See ibid., p. 515. 120 Heikal, The Sphinx and the Commissar, p. 102. In March 1959, only eight months after ‘Abd al-Nasir’s dramtic visit to Moscow, he was described by Khrushchev as a “rather hot-headed young man” who “took upon himself more than his stature permitted” in assailing communism in the Middle East. For an assessment of the relations, see ISA, “A Turn in UAR-Soviet Relations,” 2 March 1959,3744/8. 121 USNA, RG 59, Top Secret, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 2294,6 February 1958, 611.86B/2-659; FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 504-5. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s response was cautious: on 5 February 1959, he told Hare that the establishment of a channel for more sensitive material was a serious matter and he “would wish [to] think it over before giving reply”; see Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 2294, 7 February 1959,611.86B/2-659. If the subject was further followed up, there was no indica­ tion of it in the US archives. Chapter 4 1959)

Establishing the Union: The Economic Sphere (March 1958-February

1 See, e.g., an interview with a member of one of the Syrian “big five” business fami­ lies, USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 2261, 12 February 1958, 883.00/2-1258. See also Ayubi, Over-Stating the Arab State, p. 150. 2 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s interview with Henry Kern, Newsweek's correspondent, USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1827,24 January 1958,611.74/1-2458. 3 See the statement of Central Finance Minister, Dr ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Qaysuni, alAhram, 4 March 1958; and, of Dr Kamal Ramzi Stinu, Minister of Supply in the 225

Notes to pp. 68-73




7 8 9

10 11



14 226

Egyptian region, al-Ayyam, 10 March 1958; and of Sayyid Mari', the Egyptian Minister of Agriculture, 'Akhar Sa'ah, 16 April 1958. See also the interview with Dr ‘Awad Barakat, former deputy governor of the Syrian central bank, in the Aleppo daily al-Sh'ab, 12 February 1958 (USNA, RG 59, Atherton to Department of State, Dispatch 82,12 March 1958, 883.00/3-1258). See,e.g.,al-Hayat,2l January 1958;Akhbaral-Yawm, 15February 1958;Filastin, 26 March 1958; al-Siyasa, 26 March 1958. The Syrian ambassador in Cairo, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-‘Azm, stated to al-Jumhuriyya on 30 November 1957: “We are discussing the question of increasing the cultivated areas. About 170,000 sq. m can be reclaimed and provide work for about 18 million persons. Thus we welcome the largest possible number of Egyptian immigrants.” See BBC, No. 232,2 December 1957 (CNA, RG 25,6138/50405-2.1). R. S. Porter, “The Growth of the Syrian Economy,” Middle East Forum, Vol. 39 (1963), p. 20. See also the recommendations of the IBRD mission, The Economic Development of Syria (Baltimore: 1955). See, in this regard, Qaysuni’s statement, al-Ahram, 4 March 1958; in contrast, see the statement made by Khalil Kallas, the Minister of Economy in the Syrian region, Filastin, 13 February 1958. Already in February 1958 a delegation representing commercial and industrial interests reportedly expressed its concern to former President Quwwatli about possible adverse economic effects of the union; see Ha’aretz, 12 February 1958. PRO, Scott to Rose, 10 April 1958, VY1015/36, FO 371/134383. PRO, Scott to Rose (Annex), 30 April 1958, VY1015/46, FO 371/134384. PRO, Scott to Rose (Annex), 21 May 1958, VY1015/50; 11 June 1958, VY1015/57; 3 July 1958, VY1015/68, FO 371/134384; “Syria: Annual Economic Report for 1958,” Beirut to FO, Enclosure to Dispatch 15,10 February 1959, FO 371/141896. Frost, The UAR, p. 210. PRO, Scott to Rose, economic reports of 16 April 1958, VY1015/41, FO 371/134383; 30 April 1958, VY1015/46, FO 371/134384; 8 May 1959, VY1015/47; 14 May 1958, VY1015/49; 21 May, VY1015/50; 11 June 1958, VY1015/52; “Syria: Annual Economic Report for 1958,” Beirut to FO, Enclosure to Dispatch 15, 10 February 1959, FO 371/1418%. In the second quarter of 1958, Syrian export to Egypt declined from LS 2,437,000 in the first quarter to LS 792,000. See PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 1 October 1958, VY 1015/85, FO 371/134385. For details on the correspondence, see USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1659,1 December 1958, FW-611.86B/12-158; Tel. 1670,2 December 1958, 611.86B/12-258; Tel. 1900, 26 December 1958, 611.86B/12-2658; Rockwell to Hart, 11 December 1958,611.86B/12-1158; Dulles to Cairo, Tel. 2199,30 January 1959,611.86B/1-3059; Rountree to the Acting Secretary, no date, Lot File, Record of UAR, Box 1. See also FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 504-5; Heikal, The Sphinx and the Commissar, p. 101. PRO, Scott to Rose, 4 June 1958, FO 371/134384; Khalil Kallas, Bayan al-Ustadh

Notes to pp. 73-6


16 17

18 19 20 21



24 25

26 27


Khalil Kallas: Aradnaha Wahda . . . wa-Araduha Mazra'a (Beirut?: 1962), pp. 12- 13; Frost, The VAR, pp. 165-7. NYT, 10 June 1958; Frost, The UAR, p. 167; ISA, Background Paper, No. 414/S, 20 June 1958, 3752/9. See also Kallas’ description of the whole crisis, Bayan, pp. 13- 17; PRO, Scott to Rose, 3 July 1958, VY1015/68, FO 371/134384. PRO, Scott to Rose (Annex), 7 August 1958, VY1015/75, FO 371/134385. Quoted in Frost, The UAR, p. 171. For the full text of the speech, see R. Cairo, Damascus and Baghdad, 22 July 1958 {BBC, No. 609,24 July 1958, pp. 1-11). See also PRO, Scott to Rose (Annex), 7 August 1958, VY1015/75, FO 371/134385. It should be noted that this paragraph was given at the end of a speech that was completely dedicated to the success of the Iraqi revolution. See, in particular, Kallas’ arguments, Bayan, pp. 18-21. See also Frost, The UAR, p. 171. USNA, Hart to Secretary of State, Tel. 335, 1 August 1958,886.B/8-158. PRO, Scott to Rose (Annex), 3 September 1958, FO 371/134385. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 192,22 December 1958, 886B.00/12-2258; ISA, “A Year to the UAR,” Background Paper, No. 469/S, 24 February 1959,3744/8. For the statement on the budget by the finance minister, see R. Damascus, 11 August 1958 (BBC, No. 626, 13 August 1958, pp. 4-8). “The Saudi money coup,” refers to the money that Sarraj had been offered by King Sa’ud in March 1958 as a bribe to assassinate ‘Abd al-Nasir. See Holden and Jones, House ofSaud, pp. 196-7. See an excellent overview by Rosewell Whitman, Counselor for Economic Affairs at the American embassy in Cairo, “Recent Developments in Achieving a Unified UAR Economy,” USNA, Dispatch 307,7 November 1958,886B.0Q/11-758; ISA, “A Year to the UAR,” Background Paper, No. 469/S, 24 February 1959,3744/8. Mabro, The Egyptian Economy, 1952-1972 (Oxford: 1974), pp. 56-62; for detailed figures, see table 4.1, p. 61. See also Warmer, Land Reform, pp. 13-21; G. S. Saab. The Egyptian Agrarian Reform 1952-1962 (London: 1967). For further details, see Mabro, Egyptian Economy, pp. 64-82; Warmer, Land Reform, pp. 32-3. For figures, see Warmer, Land Reform, p. 83; Z. Keilany, “Land Refom in Syria,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 16 (1980), pp. 209-10; E. Garzzouzi, “Land Refom in Syria,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 17 (1963), p. 83. Warriner, Land Reform, pp. 101-3. N. Kaylani, “The Rise of the Syrian Ba’th, 1940-1958: Political Success, Party Failure,” International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 3 (1972), p. 9. On the Ba’th social and economic programs, see its constitution in Haim, Arab Nationalism, pp. 238-40. For the text of the decree, see R. Cairo, 27 September 1958 (BBC, No. 666, 29 September 1958, pp. 5-10). For further details, see PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 1 October 1958, VY1015/85, FO 371/134385. See also Garzzouzi, “Land Refom,” p. 85; Keilani, “Land Refom,” p. 211; Warriner, Land Reform, pp. 212-13; Frost, The UAR, pp. 231-4. 227

Notes to pp. 76-8 29 Mabro, Egyptian Economy, pp. 70-1; Frost, The UAR, pp. 231-2; PRO, “Syria: Annual Report for 1958,” Beirut to FO, Enclosure to Dispatch 15, lOFebruary 19S9, FO 371/1418%. 30 For the text of the decree, see Radio Cairo, 30 September 1958 {BBC, No. 669, 2 October 1958, pp. 4-6). See also PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 16 October 1958, VY1015/88, FO 371/134385. 31 For the statement, see Arab News Agency, 8 September 1958 (BBC, 650, 10 September 1958), pp. 4-5). For details on the law, see PRO, Scott to Rose, 10 September 1958, FO 371/134385; USNA, RG 59, Whitman to Department of State, Dispatch 307, 7 November 1958, 886B.00/11-758; Warriner, Land Reform, pp. 212-13; Keilany, “Land Reform,” p. 211 ; Garzzouzi, “Land Reform,” p. 85; Frost, The UAR, p. 228. 32 See, in this regard, P. Khoury, “The Tribal Shaykh, French Tribal Policy, and the Nationalist Movement in Syria Between Two World Wars,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 18 (1982), pp. 180-93; C. Velud, “Syria: Etat mandataire, mouvement national et tribus (1920-1936),” Monde Arabe Maghreb Machrek, No. 147 (January-March 1995), pp. 48-71. 33 For the 1956 law and its abolition, see USNA, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 227, 3 October 1958, 786B.00/10-358; Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 121,6 November 1958, 786B.0Q/11-658; PRO, Scott to Hadow, 1 October 1958, VY1015/85, FO 371/134385; R. Damascus, 29 September 1958 (BBC, No. 668, 1 October 1958, pp. 4-5); Davar, 7 December 1958. The number of tribesmen was estimated at 110,000-120,000. See PRO, Enclosure to Dispatch 107,6 July 1956, FO 371/121859; Scott to Hadow, 16 October 1958, VY1015/88, FO 371/134385. 34 Warriner, Land Reform, p. 214. See also PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 31 October 1958, VY1015/91,134385. 35 In comparison to 10 per cent in Egypt; see Warriner, Land Reform, pp. 104, 215; USNA, RG 59, Whitman to Department of State, Dispatch 307,7 November 1958, 886B.00/11-758. 36 For the text, see R. Cairo, 27 November 1958 (BBC, No. 719,29 November 1958, pp. 1-24). See also PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 21 November 1958, VY 1015/95, FO 371/134385. 37 Warriner, Land Reform, p. 216. For slightly different figures, see Frost, The UAR, p. 234. 38 USNA, RG 59, Atherton to Department of State, Dispatch 43, 3 October 1958, 786B.00/ 10-358; Dispatch 46, 13 October 1958,786B.00/10-1358. 39 USNA, RG 59, Atherton to Department of State, Dispatch 49, 24 October 1958, 786B.00/10-2458. In early November, Homsi told Atherton that “if I could get out of this country with the half of what I possess, I would leave immediately.” See Dispatch 57,5 November 1958,786B.00/11-558. 40 Mari', Awraq Ayyami, Vol. 2, pp. 406-9. 41 USNA, RG 59, Atherton to Department of State, Dispatch 57, 5 November 1958, 786B.00/ 11-558. Mari' himself did not mention this episode in his memoirs. 42 The full text was published by al-Ahram, 19 December 1958. For an English 228

Notes to pp. 78-81

43 44

45 46



49 50

51 52



55 56

57 58

version, see USNA, Barrow to Department of State, Dispatch 479,8 January 19S9, 886B.00/1-859. See also Devlin, Ba'th Party, pp. 136-7; Frost, The UAR, pp. 217-19. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Secretary of State, Tel. 1153, 23 November 1958, 786B.00/ 11-2358; Tel. 670,4 January 1959,786B.00/1-459. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Secretary of State, Tel. 1153, 23 November 1958, 786B.00/ 11-2358; Ireland to Secretary of State, Tel. 52, 29 November 1958, 786B.00/11-2958; PRO, Edden to Hadow (Annex), 10 January 1959, FO 371/141899. For the text, see R. Damascus, 24 December 1958 (BBC, No. 741, 30 December 1958, p. 24). USNA, RG 59, Ireland to Secretary of State, Tel. 52,29 November 1958,786B.00/ 11-2958. For a call to promulgate a new, more flexible law see al-Jarida, 16 November 1958. Ibid. There was a 50 per cent duty on rayon products, glassware, hides, shoes, and aerated waters, and a 100 per cent duty on tobacco, sugar and salt. See also Qaysuni’s interview in Akhbar al-Yawm, 17 October 1958. It is interesting that Kallas did not discuss this point in his book. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 192, 22 December 1958, 886B.00/12-2258; Intelligence Report, 11 March 1960, 786B.00/3-2460, p. 25; PRO, “Syria: Annual Economic Report for 1958,” Beirut to FO, Enclosure to Dispatch 15,10 February 1959, FO 371/1418%; Frost, The UAR, p. 212. Ibid. For the text of the statement, see Akhbar al-Yawm, 18 October 1958. Finance Minister Hasan Jabbara declared that economic unity would have to be achieved before July 1959; see PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 22 October 1958, FO 371/134385. Al-Jumhuriyya, 27 October 1958. USNA, RG 59, Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 309, 16 March 1959, 886B.00/ 3-1659; ISA, “A Year to the UAR,” Background Paper, No. 469/S, 24 February 1959,3744/8. For a summary of his statement, see PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 7 November 1958, VY1015/92, FO 371/134385. See also al-Akhbar's article on the UAR atti­ tude toward foreign capital, BBC, No. 688,24 October 1958, p. 4. PRO, Edden to Hadow (Annex), 20 December 1958, FO 371/134385; 24 December 1958, FO 371/134385; “Syria: Annual Report for 1958,” Beirut to FO, Enclosure to Dispatch 15,10 February 1959, FO 371/1418%. R. Damascus, 18 December 1958 (BBC, No. 737,20 December 1958, p. 3). See also the Syrian press review in this regard, ibid., pp. 3-4. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 237, 27 January 1959, 886B.00/ 1-2759; Whitman to Department of State, Dispatch 628, 25 February 1959, 886B .00/2-2559. Le Commerce du Levant, quoted in the Arab World, 20 January 1959. See Sidqi’s press conference, MENA, 8 November 1958 (BBC, No. 702, 10 229

Notes to pp. 81-4


60 61


63 64 65



68 69 70


November 1958, p. 10). See also R. Cairo, 8 November 1958 (ibid., p. 11); R. Damascus, 7 November 1958 (ibid., p. 9); R. Cairo, 4 January 1959 (ibid.. No. 747, 6 January 1959, p. 10). On the Egyptian plan, see Sidqi’s statement, R. Cairo, 25 July 1958 (ibid., No, 612, 28 July 1958, pp. 6-7). For further details on the plan, see USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 150, 22 November 1958, 886B.00/Five Year/11-2258; Dispatch 192, 22 December 1958, 886B.00/12-2258. The Syrian plan was less ambitious than initially expected (at a cost of SL 800 million including 70 industrial projects), see PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 7 November 1958, VY1015/92, FO 371/134385. PRO, Scott to Hadow (Annex), 22 October 1958, FO 371/134385; “Syria: Annual Economic Report for 1958,” Beirut to FO, Enclosure to Dispatch 15, 10 February 1959, FO 371/ 1418%. For Kallas’ arguments, see Bayern, pp. 35-43. The Times, 6 January 1959. This was originally published by al-Ahram, 19 December 1958. See also USNA, RG 59, Barrow to Department of State, Dispatch 479,8 January 1959,886B.0Q/1-859. For the text of the speech, see R. Cairo and Damascus, 23 December 1958 (BBC, No. 740,29 December 1958, pp. 1-10). See also USNA, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 237, 27 January 1959, 886B.00/1-2759; al-Ahram, 3-4 January 1959. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 237, 27 January 1958, 886B.00/ 1-2759; al-Hayat, 6 January 1959. See interview with Baghdadi, USNA, RG 59, Ross (Cairo) to Department of State, Dispatch 593, 13 February 1959,786B.00/2-1359; al-Ahram, 1 February 1959. For further details on the decisions, see USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 237, 27 January 1959, 886B.00/1-2759; PRO, Edden to Hadow (Annex), 17 January 1959, VG1016/3; 30 January 1959, VG1016/5; 6 February 1959, VG1016/6; 13 February 1959, VG1016/7, FO 371/141899; al-Hayat, 11,14, 16,25 January 1959; al-Ahram, 1 February 1959; al-Ayyam, 10 February 1959; R. Damascus, 9 February 1959 (BBC, No. 778, 11 February 1959, pp. 7-8). Not everyone was misled by the commission’s activity. ‘Abd al-Karim, Central Minister for Municipal and Rural Affairs, asserted that its work was no more than a “show” (masrahiya); see Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 197-207. There is, of course, no reference to the IBRD report in the government statements. For a comparison, see Economic Development of Syria, pp. 45-7 (irrigation), 67-70 (land reform), 75-8,88-90,100-1 (agriculture), 110-21 (industry), 129-48 (trans­ port and communication), 163-7 (housing). Talk with the Governor of the Syrian Central Bank, ‘Izzat al-Tarabulsi, USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 211,6 January 1959,886B.00/1-659. See, e.g., reports on al-Ahram, 7,20 March, 24 April; al-Hayat, 7 March 1959. For a few examples, see BBC, No. 789, 24 February 1959, pp. 1-3; No. 790, 25 February 1959, pp. 1-2; No. 792,27 February 1959, pp. 1-5; No. 795,28 February 1959, pp. 1-5; No. 794,2 March 1959, pp. 1-8; No. 795,3 March 1959, pp. 1-11 ; No. 797,5 March 1959, pp. 13-15; No. 801,10 March 1959, pp. 2-5.

Notes to pp. 85-6 Chapter 5 A Widening Rift: The Political and Economic Spheres (February 1959-February 1960)

1 This figure was provided by al-Hayat, 14 March 1959. For details on the revolt, see Dann, Iraq Under Qassem, pp. 157-77; Sluglett and Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958, pp. 66-70; Be’eri, Army Officers, pp. 182-4; Batatu, The Old Social Classes, ch. 44. See also USNA, RG 59, Wilson (Baghdad) to Department of State, “The Mosul Uprising Against Qassim,” Dispatch 576, 16 March 1959, 787.00/3-1659; FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 12, pp. 395-409. 2 See Heikal’s revelations on UAR-Iraqi military contacts, MENA, 4 March 1959 (BBC, No. 821,6 April 1959). 3 Following the coup, Kaylani was sentenced to death but never executed. Most of the information on the Egyptian team and the coup was taken from Y. Caroz, The Arab Secret Service (London: 1978), pp. 94-9. See also Dann, Iraq Under Qassem, pp. 127-35. Khadduri claimed that “it is unlikely that he agreed to work for union between the two countries,” Republican Iraq, p. 101. In his opinion, Qasim used “the so-called Rashid ‘Ali plot as an excuse to discredit Egypt by accusing her of intervention in Iraqi domestic affairs” (p. 104). See also PRO, Crosthwaite (Beirut) to Lloyd, Dispatch 14,7 February 1959, VG1017/2, FO 371/1418%. 4 CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, 136,25 February 1959,6139/ 50405-40-6.1; Tel. 3, 12 January 1959,6138/50405^0-5.2. 5 For the position of the Iraqi Communist Party, see Dann, Iraq Under Qassem, pp. 156-8, 161-3. 6 ‘Abd al-Nasir’s interview with the Indian magazine Blitz, see MENA, 17 April 1959 (BBC, No. 5, 20 April 1959, p. 4). See also in this regard, al-Hayat, 20 February 1959. More on ‘Abd al-Nasir’s concern with the Iraqi communists, see CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 56,28 January 1959,6138/50405-40-5.2. 7 Heikal described it as follows: “Colonel Shawwaf came to the conclusion that he might be compelled to act. He got in touch with Colonel Sarraj in Damascus and asked if he could send Syrian troops through Dir el-Zor. Sarraj explained that this was impossible, so Shawwaf asked for a mobile broadcasting unit. This was sent”. See The Sphinx and the Commissar, pp. 106-7. On possible Egyptian involvement in the Mosul Revolt, see Caroz, The Arab Secret Service, pp. 99-101; Dann, Iraq Under Qassem, pp. 175-6; Sluglett and Sluglett, Iraq Since 1958, p. 68; Be’eri, Army Officers, p. 184. According to the American embassy in Baghdad, “the UAR cannot be said to have significantly backed the revolt.” USNA, RG 59, Wilson to Department of State, Dispatch 576, 16 March 1959, 787.00/3-1659; Anschuetz (Cairo) to Secretary of State, Tel. 2578,9 March 1959,787.00/3-959. The Canadian ambassador thought that “there was no doubt that the UAR participated in planning [an] attempt to oust Qasim.” See CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 1%, 12 March 1959,6139/50405-40-6.1. 8 See, i.e., R. Tel Aviv, 10 March 1959 (BBC, No. 803,12 March 1959, pp. 14-15). 9 Khadduri claimed that the fact that ‘Abd al-Nasir was celebrating the first UAR anniversary in Damascus was a coincidence, and that he had decided to remain in 231

Notes to pp. 86-8



12 13



16 17 18 19


21 22

23 24

25 232

Syria to watch the events. According to his description, the UAR did not play any significant role in the Mosul Revolt, see Republican Iraq, pp. 104-12. ‘Abd al-Nasir told the Canadians that “from all I can leant” Shawwaf had not been intended as the leader of the rising and had been pushed or enticed into premature action of his own. CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 474, 5 June 1959, 6139/50405-40-7.1 ; Tel. 865,3 October 1959,6139/50405-40-8.1 USNA, RG 59, Ross (Cairo) to Department of State, Dispatch 817,25 April 1959, 786B.00 /4-2559. For further denials, see CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 253, no date, 6139/50405- 40-6.2. For details on the propaganda war, see Ram, “Iraq-UAR Relations,” pp. 426-38. For ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches, see R. Damascus, 11 March (BBC, No. 803,12 March 1959, pp. 12-14); 12 March (ibid., No. 805, 14 March 1959, pp. 1-2); 13 March (ibid., No. 806,16 March 1959, pp. 2^1); 16 March (ibid., No. 807,17 March 1959), pp. 7-8; 22 March (ibid.. No. 813,24 March 1959), pp. 1-9. See Heikal’s articles in al-Ahram, 14 March, 18 March (BBC, No. 810, 20 March 1959, pp. 1-2), 19 March (No. 811,21 March 1959, pp. 1-2); 2 April (USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 758, 4 April 1959, 686B.00/4-459); 4 April (Dispatch 762,7 April 1959,686B.00/4-759. For a list of this activity, see USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 366,29 April 1959,686B.00/4-2959; Jones to Department of State, Dispatch 424, 9 June 1959,686B.00/6-959. Heikal, The Sphinx and the Commissar, p. 107. For a slightly different version, see R. Damascus, 22 March 1959 (BBC, No. 813,24 March 1959), p. 1. USNA, RG 59, Herter to Cairo, Tel. 3289, 27 April 1959, 686B.00/4-1859; Rountree to the Acting Secretary, 16 April 1959, Records of UAR, Box 1. Ram, “Iraq-UAR Relations,” pp. 433-7. USNA, Jemegan (Baghdad) to Secretary of State, Tel. 2660, 16 March 1959, 787.00/3-1659. The State Department decided to pass on this information to ‘Abd al-Nasir, see Herter to Cairo, Tel. 2718,16 March 1959,787.00/3-1659. See the text of his statement, R. Baghdad, lOMay 1959 (BBC, No. 24,12 May 1959, pp. 8-9). For Egyptian response, see R. Cairo, 16 May 1959 (ibid., No. 29,19 May 1959, p. 13). For the report that Bizri was granted political refuge, see R. Baghdad, 1 June 1959 (ibid., No. 42, 3 June 1959, p. 5). al-Ayyam, al-Jumhuriyya, 24,26 March 1959. See, i.e., ‘Abd al-Nasir interview to Blitz, MENA, 17 April 1959 (BBC, No. 5, 20 April 1959, p. 5). ‘Abd al-Nasir described himself as someone who “has strong reli­ gious beliefs and reject atheism.” Al-Ahram, 30 March 1959; al-Jumhuriyya, 4 ,9 April 1959; al-Hayat, 5 April 1959. Al-Ahram, 28 August 1959. Among the recommended measures: the study of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches in schools; curriculum changes that would give more expres­ sion to Arab national ideas; the supply of books on Arab nationalism to schools; the supply of films on the revolution and against imperialism. Ruz al-Yusuf, 13 April 1959; al-Jumhuriyya, 9 April 1959.

Notes to pp. 88-91 26 Crosthwaite to Lloyd, Dispatch 38, 18 April 1959 (copy found in CNA, RG 25, 6139/ 50405-40-6.2). 27 CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 474,5 June 1959,6139/ 50405-40-7.1. The truce in UAR-Iraqi relations did not stop ‘Abd al-Nasir from meddling in Iraqi affairs. There are indications that on September 1959, a group of Iraqi nationalists approached ‘Abd al-Nasir with the aim of receiving support for removing Qasim from power. ‘Abd al-Nasir seems to have said that “the job must be done by Iraqis,” but he was willing to help them provided his terms were accepted. For further details, see CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 865, 3 October 1959, 6139/50405-40-8.1. 28 ‘Abd al-Nasir interview in Blitz, MENA, 17 April 1959 (BBC, No. 5,20 April 1959, p.5). 29 CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 792, 12 September 1959, 6139/50405-40-8.1. The ambassador added that he thought Heikal’s statement was sincere. 30 Dann claimed that Heikal “had the task of spelling out the unpleasantries that Abdel Nasser found it impolitic to utter in person”; see King Hussein, p. 169. 31 Article 72 of the Provisional Constitution in Hasou, Struggle for the Arab World, p. 194. 32 PRO, Crowe to Lloyd, Dispatch 53,22 July 1960, VG1016/18, FO 371/150902. 33 For details on the Liberation Rally, see J. Gordon, Nasser’s Blessed Movement: Egypt’s Free Officers and the July Revolution (New York: 1992), pp. 80-3. 34 R. Cairo and Damascus, 12 March 1958 (BBC, No. 500, 14 March 1958, p. 5), Article 3. 35 Chairman - ‘Abd al-Nasir; Secretary General - Sadat; Director of the Political Office - ‘Ali Sabri; and twelve Assistant Secretaries (Labor, Public Relations and Press, Ideology, Finance, Foreign Relations, Committees, Regional Affairs, Youth, Professional Syndicates, Cooperatives, Popular Resistance, Women’s Union). See USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 976, 22 June 1959, 786B .00/6-2259. 36 PRO, Scott to Rose, 14 May 1958, VY1015/49; Chancery (Ankara) to Levant Department, 20 June 1958, VY1015/63, FO 371/134384. 37 USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 976, 22 June 1959, 786B.00/6-2259; PRO, Crosthwaite to Lloyd, Dispatch 14, 7 February 1959, VG1017/2, FO 134/1418%; ISA, Background Paper, No. 414/S, 20 June 1958, 3752/9. 38 See, e.g. Heikal’s article in al-Ahram, 7 January 1959. 39 R. Cairo, 21 February 1959 (BBC, No. 788,23 February 1959, p. 16). See also ‘Abd al-Nasir’s interview with Blitz, MENA, 17 April 1959 (BBC, No. 5,20 April 1959, P-9). 40 For details, see USNA, RG 59, Jones to Department of State, Dispatch 3%, 21 May 1959,786B.00/5-2159. 41 For details on the NU structure, see MER, Vol. 1 (1960), pp. 479-82; USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 976, 22 June 1959, 786B.00/6-2259; Dispatch 28, 15 July 1959, 786B .00/7-1559; ISA, “Elections to the National 233

Notes to pp. 91-7

42 43

44 45



48 49


51 52 234

Assembly and National Union,” 25 May 1959,3744/9. For a different chart, see A. Perlmutter, Political Order and Military Rulers (London: 1981), pp. 215-16. USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 976, 22 June 1959, 786B.00/6-2259; Dispatch 290,9 November 1959,786B.00/11-959. See a talk with Edmond Homsi, President of the Chamber of Commerce, USNA, RG 59, Ireland to Department of State, Dispatch 203, 18 June 1959, 786B.00/6-1859. For the exact figures, see USNA, Ireland to Department of State, Dispatch 201,15 June 1959,786B.00/6-1559. The Ba‘th was highly critical of this trend. See, in particular, al-Wahda, 25 June 1959 (taken from USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 2064, 26 June 1959, 786B.00/6-2659). See also the Ba‘th organ, al-Jamahir, as reflected in alHayat, 30 June, 1, 2 July 1959. See also in this regard, USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 2034, 16 June 1959,786B.00/ 6-1659; Tel. 2065,25 June 1959,786B.00/6-2559; Ireland to Department ofState, Dispatch 203,18 June 1959, 786B.00/6-1859; interview with ‘Ali al-Ayyubi, son of former Syrian prime minister during the French mandate, ‘Ata al-Ayyubi, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 935,4 June 1959,786B .00/6-459. For figures, see USNA, RG 59, Ireland to Department of State, Dispatch 203, 18 June 1959, 786B.00/6-1859; Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 3, 4 July 1959, 786B.00/7-259. On the strength of the Populists and Nationalists in Aleppo, see Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 935, 4 June 1959, 786B.00/6-459. For further information on the organization of the right-wing candidates in Aleppo against the Ba‘th, see ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa' ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, p. 218. The Ba‘th press justified the defection of certain members in ideological verbiage. See Al-Jamahir, 1 July 1959 (taken from USNA, RG 59, Jones to Department of State, Dispatch 8, 14 July 1959, 786B.00/7-1459). Jundi claimed, however, that ‘Aflaq insisted that Ba‘th candidates “should proceed whatever were the results” (al-Ba ‘th, p. 80). Al-Ahram, 2 July 1959. The interview was broadcast on R. Cairo, 2 July 1959 (BBC, No. 68, 3 July 1959, pp. 9-16). See also PRO, Chancery (Cairo) to Levant Department, 3 July 1959, VG10110/23, FO 371/141903. USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 2068, 27 June 1959, 786B.00/6-2659. For a similar view, see USNA, Foley (Cairo) to Department of State, Dispatch 165, 9 September 1959,786B.00/9-959. On the peaceful atmosphere in Egypt, see Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 20,3 July 1959,786B.00/7-259. Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 143. This phenomenon was not confined to the Syrian region; in the Egyptian region, 11,952 candidates withdrew out of 29,919 elected. See MER, 1960, p. 482. See also USNA, RG 59, Foley to Department of State, Dispatch 165, 9 September 1959, 786B.00/9-959; Meyer to Hart, 17 July 1958, 786B.00/7-1759; PRO, Edden to Beith, 11 July 1959, VG1016/29.FO 371/141899. CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 574,9 July 1959,6143/ 50405-B-40-4.2. As reported by Anwar al-Sadat, a close confidant of the Canadians, see CNA, RG

Notes to pp. 97-9

53 54


56 57

58 59



62 63

64 65


25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 790, 12 September 1959, 7807/12653-1-40-1.2. The ambassador added at the end of his telegram: “it is important that Sadat’s confi­ dence be carefully respected." For emphasis on this point, see ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 218-19. See the interview with ‘Ali al-Ayyubi, USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 935,4 June 1959,786B.00/6-459. See also Sadat’s talk with the Canadian ambassador, CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 790, 12 September 1959, 7807/12653-1-40-1.2. In addition to the many examples cited above, see the following reports on talks with the UAR president: Taha Riad, Qissat al-Wahda, p. 146; ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 221-3; Farsakh, al-Wahda fi al-Tajriba, p. 289. Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 142. Ibid., p. 143. See also, on various measures of the Interior Ministry that circum­ scribed Ba'th freedom of action, PRO, Edden to Beith, 3 July 1959, VG1016/28, FO 371/141899. R. Cairo, 22 July 1959 (BBC, No. 86,23 July 1959, pp. 1-33). Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 144; PRO, Norwich to Beith, 8 August 1959, VG1016/32; 13 August 1959, VG1016/33, FO 371/141899. Al-Wahda was the first newspaper to be granted permission to publish since 22 February 1959; see al-Hayat, 5 February 1959. PRO, Edden to Beith, 11 July 1959, VG1016/29, FO 371/141899; al-Hawadith, 25 September 1959; al-Nahar, 15 September 1959 (BBC, No. 140,26 September 1959, p. 5); Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 144; Frost, The UAR, 191. USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 386, 13 October 1959, 786B.00/10-1359; Ireland to Secretary of State, Tel. 80, 1 November 1959, 786B.00/11-159. On Iraqi propaganda that reported on clashes in the Syrian army, see R. Baghdad, 16-17 October 1959 (BBC, No. 159,19 October 1959, pp. 3-4). PRO, copy of Smith’s Tel., 22 September 1959, VG1017/2, FO 371/141900; Norwich to Beith, 26 September 1959, VG1016/36, FO 371/141899. For details on his activity, see USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 191, 27 October 1959, 786B. 12/10-2759. For the text of some of his speeches, see Voice of the Arabs, 170ctober 1959 (BBC, No. 159,190ctober 1959, pp. 1-2); Radio Cairo, 20 October 1959 (ibid., No. 161,21 October 1959, pp. 1-4). USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1171, 14 October 1959, 786B.00/1O-1459. USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Hart, 27 October 1959,786B.00/10-2759. For an illumi­ nating description of Syrian discontent during this period, see ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 221-3. The author remarked that the situation in Syria resembled “the last days of Adib al-Shishakli," that the union was a kind of “Egyptian imperialism,” and that the central government resembled a “govern­ ment in exile.” USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1260, 23 October 1959, 786B.00/10-2259; Meyer to Hart, 27 October 1959,786B.00/10-2759; RG 59, LF 235

Notes to pp. 99-101


68 69

70 71 72

73 74



77 78


Records of the UAR, Meyer to Hart, 22 October 1959; PRO, Edden to Beith, 24 October 1959, VG1016/40, FO 371/141899; R. Cairo and Damascus, 21 October 1959 (BBC, No. 163, 23 October 1959, p. 1). On the aims of ‘Amir’s mission, see al-Ahram, 23 October; al-Jumhuriyya, 28 October 1959. USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Hart, 27 October 1959,786B.00/10-2759. Initially, ‘Abd al-Nasir intended to entrust the mission to Baghdadi; see CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 948,20 October 1959,7807/12653-1^10-2.2. Al-Jarida, 27 October 1959 (quoted in Devlin, The Ba 'th Party, p. 145). Before the union, the newspaper was known to be pro-Egyptian. For the text, see MENA, 5 November 1959 (BBC, No. 176, 7 November 1959, p. 4). See also USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 212, 9 November 1959,786B.00/11-959 (a report by al-Akhbar). The British had a similar view: “if the Syrians maintain their usual form, [the Complaints Bureau] should not be short of work.” PRO, Edden to Beith, 30 October 1959, VG1016/41, FO 371/141899. Based on a report in The Times (26 May 1960), Frost claimed that the Bureau was receiving an average of 3,000 letters a day, a number which had been reduced by three-quarters by May 1960 (Frost, The UAR, p. 247). CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 1109,3 December 1959,6139/50405-^0-8.2. PRO, Norwich to Beith, 6 November 1959, VG1016/42, FO 371/141899. For a list of Aleppean grievances, see al-Hawadith, 6 November 1959. See also PRO, Norwich to Beith, 13 November 1959, VG1016/43, FO 371/141899. For the text of a memorandum submitted to ‘Amir by a delegation of the Aleppo Chamber of Agriculture, see R. Damascus, 9 November 1959 (BBC, No. 179,11 November 1959, p. 8). Heikal relates that Minister of Agrarian Reform Hamdun refused to grant Rashad al-Jabiri, a Populist and former minister from Damascus, the right of choosing his part of the land according to the Agrarian Reform Law because he was allegedly “an agent of the Baghdad Pact"; see Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 98. R. Damascus, 5 November 1959 (BBC, No. 175,6 November 1959, pp. 7-8). PRO, Norwich to Beith, 13 November 1959, VG1016/43, FO 371/141899; USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 212, 9 November 1959, 786B.00/11-959. PRO, Norwich to Beith, 6 November 1959, VG1016/42; 13 November 1959, VG1016/43, FO 371/141899; al-Ahram, 26 November 1959; al-Hayat, 12 November 1959; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya. p. 98; Frost, The UAR, p. 246. PRO, Norwich to Beith, 18 December 1959, VG1016/48; FO 371/141899; Commercial Secretary to Board of Trade, 18 December 1959, VG1463/3, FO 371/142032; Radio Damascus, 15 December 1959 (BBC, No. 210, 17 December 1959, pp. 8-9). R. Cairo and Damascus, 27 October 1959 (BBC, No. 168,29 October 1959, p. 4). For more information on this complex structure, see USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 290,9 November 1959,786B.00/11-959; Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 362,9 January 1960,786B.00/1-960; PRO, Norwich to Beith, 21 November 1959, VG1016/44, FO 371/141899; Crowe to Lloyd, Dispatch 53,22 July 1960, VG1016/18, FO 371/150902.

Notes to pp. 101-2 79 USNA, RG 59, Dispatch 290, 9 November 1959, 786B.00/11-959. An American intelligence report concluded: “many details of the [NU] system and its proposed methods of operation are unclear.” See the report attached to Meyer to Jones, 24 March 1960,786B.00/ 3-2460. A similar view was expressed by the British: “The principle is simple, yet the formation of the various committees is so complex . . . that I have not been able to find anyone, whether native member or foreign observer, who claims to understand it fully.” PRO, Crowe to Lloyd, Dispatch 53, 22 July 1960, VG1016/18, FO 371/150902. 80 PRO, Norwich to Beith, 6 November 1959, VG1016/42; 13 November 1959, VG1016/43, FO 371/141899; USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 212,9 November 1959,786B.0Q/11-959. 81 PRO, Norwich to Beith, 11 December 1959, VG1016/47, FO 371/141899. 82 MENA, 30 December 1959 (BBC, No. 221, 1 January 1960), p. 1; Devlin, Ba'th Party, pp. 160-1. For a critical version of the ministers’ decision, see Safadi, Hizb al-Ba‘th, pp. 254-5. 83 Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 99. For ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speech, see Voice of the Arabs, 23 December 1959 (BBC, No. 217,28 December 1959, pp. 1-19. ‘Abd al-Karim related that following ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speech, in which he castigated “partisanship” and hinted at Ba‘th activity, Hourani, Bitar, Nafiiri, ‘Azmah and the writer discussed the possibility of resignation but nothing was decided. Therefore, Nafiiri, ‘Azmah and ‘Abd al-Karim were surprised to learn that the four Ba‘th minis­ ters submitted their resignation on the following day (24 December). Although the three were committed to their prior decision to resign simultaneously, they felt that the move was a demonstration of partisanship and therefore decided to postpone it. Moreover, they felt that when the Ba‘th ministers took this unilateral act without offering any explanations to the Syrian public they made a grave error. See Adwa ’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 253-61. 84 Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 100; Riad, Mudhakirrat, Vol. 2, p. 223; CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 72,22 January 1960,6139/50405-40-8.2. 85 APD, 1963, Third Stage, 1st Meeting, p. 138. In February 1959, ‘Aflaq told a young professor, P. J. Vatikiotis, visiting Syria on behalf of the American Social Science Research Council, that he resented Hourani’s dominant role in Syrian affairs, that he was angry at ‘Abd al-Nasir’s opposition to partisan activity, and that he was disappointed by the deterioration in Iraqi-UAR relations. See USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 275,26 February 1959,786B.00/2-2659. 86 Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 160. For the Ba‘th version of the resignation, see “Mawqifuna min al-Hukm fi al-Jumhuriyya al-‘Arabiyya al-Mutahidda,” 16 March 1960, Nidalal-Ba‘th, Vol. 4 (Beirut: 1964), pp. 131-79. 87 ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa ’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 239-42. 88 Devlin, Ba'th Party, pp. 173-4. 89 Ibid, pp. 170-6. 90 This information was reported by the Jordanian newspaper al-Jihad, 24 August 1959. See also ISA, “A Crisis between Nasir and the Ba‘th,” 26 August 1959, 3744/10. 237

Notes to pp. 102-4 91 USNA, RG 59, Ireland to Secretary of State, Tel. 42, 11 September 1959, 786B.00/9-1159; Tel. 64,12 October 1959,786B.0Q/1O-1O59. 92 PRO, Norwich to Beith, 30 December 1959, VG1017/1, FO 371/150904. A British officiai claimed that ‘Amir”s move “put the nose of Hamdun seriously out ofjoint.” Arthur (Cairo) to Rothnie, 5 January 1960, VG1015/3, FO 371/150900. For the text of ‘Amir’s order, see R. Damascus, 15 December 1959 {BBC, No. 210, 17 December 1959, pp. 8-9). 93 Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 98. ‘Abd al-Nasir thought so too; during the 1963 Unity Talks he described Hamdun as “an honest army officer,” APD, 19 March 1963, first meeting, p. 111. 94 APD, 19 March 1963, first meeting, p. 103. ‘Abd al-Nasir derided this argument in his speech on Revolution Day Anniversary, see Voice of the Arabs, 22 July 1963 (BBC, No. 1308,24 July 1963, p. 3). 95 This was in response to Ben-Gurion’s announcement on 18 November 1959 that Israel would give top priority to the diversion of Jordan River water from Lake Tiberias to the Negev in order to settle Jews there. On the meeting of the UAR government to discuss its response, see ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat alWahda, pp. 245-50. See also articles that appeared after the disintegration of the UAR: Hourani in Dimashq al-Masa’, 8 June 1962; al-Ayyam, 21 August 1962; Nafuri in his speech at the Shtura Conference, ibid., 31 August 1962. On the ArabIsraeli struggle over the issue, see E. Zisser, The Arab-Israeli Struggle over the Jordan Waters and the Inter-Arab System (MA thesis, Tel Aviv University, 1988) (Hebrew), pp. 88-92. 96 See, e.g., Kallas, Bayan, p. 12. See also Al-Hayat, 31 December 1959, 1 January 1960; USNA, RG 59, Anschuelz to Secretary of State, Tel. 1981, 30 December 1959,786B.00/ 12-3059. 97 ‘Aflaq told this to the Canadians; CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 1108, 3 December 1959,6143/50405-B-40-5.1. 98 Quoted in Devlin, Ba‘th Party, p. 160. This position was also reflected in al-Hayat, 3,5 January 1960. 99 APD, 19 March 1963, first meeting, p. 102. 100 Seethe 1963 Unity talks, APD, 14March 1963, first meeting, p. 79; 15March 1959, third meeting, pp. 98-9; 19 March 1963, first meeting, pp. 103,108. See also his speech, Voice of the Arabs, 22 July 1963 {BBC, No. 308,24 July 1959). 101 USNA, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 649, 30 December 1959, 786B.00/12-3059. 102 See, e.g., a report in al-Jarida, 13 January 1960. 103 For the text of the interview, see MENA, 26 January 1960 {BBC, No. 244, 28 January 1960, p. 8). 104 MER, 1960, p. 497. 105 Quoted in Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 162. A similar message was transmitted in his speech at a NU conference in Damascus on 4 March 1960; see R. Damascus, 4 March 1960 {BBC, No. 277,7 March 1960, pp. 1-6); MER, 1960, p. 501. 106 Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 175; MER, 1960, p. 497. 238

Notes to pp. 104-8 107 Devlin, Ba ‘th Party, pp. 175-6; MER, 1960, p. 498. Rimawi attempted to cover his moves in ideological garb: see his al-Mantiq al-Thawri lil-Haraka al-Qawmiyya al'Arabiyya al-Haditha (Cairo: 1961); and al-Qawmiyya wa-al-Wahda fi al-Haraka al-Qawmiyya al- ‘Arabiyya al-Haditha (Cairo: 1961). 108 Devlin, Ba'th Party, pp. 177-8. 109 PRO, Crosthwaite to Beith, 28 January 1960, VG10110/1, FO 371/150909. 110 USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Ambassador Hare, 14 January 1960,886B.00/1-1460. For different figures, see Intelligence Report, 11 March 1960,786B.00/3-2460, p. 23. 111 PRO, Edden to Hadow, 13 February 1959, VG1016/7, FO 371/141899; Crosthwaite to Lloyd, Dispatch 14,7 February 1959, VG1017/2, FO 371/1418%. 112 On the provisions of the agreement and the protest made by the Syrian Chambers of Commerce to Cairo, see PRO, Edden to Beith, 12 June 1959, VG1016/25, FO 371/141899; ANA, 2 June 1959 (BBC, No. 43,4 June 1959, p. 15); CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 572,17 December 1959,6139/50405-40-8.2. 113 PRO, Crosthwaite to Lloyd, Dispatch 14, 7 February 1959, VG1017/2, FO 371/1418%. 114 For details on the foreign aid, see USNA, RG 59, Brewer to Rockwell, 29 June 1959, 886B.00/6-2959; Ruzal-Yusuf, 1 February 1960. 115 USNA, RG 59, Whitman to Department of State, Dispatch 592,19 February 1960, 886B.00/2-1960. See also Intelligence Report, 11 March 1960,786B.00/3-2460. 116 USNA, RG 59, Rountree to the Acting Secretary, 16 April 1959, LF, Records of UAR, Box 1; Herter to Cairo, Tel. 3289,27 April 1959,686B.00/4-1859; Meyer to Jones, 27 November 1959,786B.5-MSP/11-2759. 117 See a report on ‘Abd al-Nasir’s meeting with Henry Kem, Newsweek's correspon­ dent, on 27 April: USNA, RG 59, Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 3229, 29 April 1959,686B.00/4-2959. 118 USNA, RG 59, Jones to the Acting Secretary, 17 August 1959, 786B.5-MSP/8-1759; Meyer to Jones, 27 November 1959,786B.5-MSP/11-2759. 119 USNA, RG 59, Anschuetz to Secretary of State, Tel. 3579,29 May 1959,786B.5MSP/ 5-2959; Whitman to Department of State, Dispatch 995, 29 June 1959, 786B.5-MSP/6-2959; Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 2003, 8 June 1959, 786B.5-MSP/6-859. 120 USNA, RG 59, Rockwell to Damascus, Tel. 11,2 July 1959,786B.5-MSP/5-2959. 121 USNA, RG 59, Anschuetz to Secretary of State, Tel. 155, 16 July 1959, 786B.5-MSP/7-1659; Tel. 213,21 July 1959,786B.5-MSP/7-2159. 122 See Memorandum of Conversation and attached list, USNA, RG 59,24 September 1959,786B.5-MSP/9-2459. 123 FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 555-59; USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 374, 10 October 1959, 786B.5-MSP/10-1059; Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1180, 15 October 1959, 786B.5-MSP/10-1659; Meyer to Jones, 27 November 1959, 786B.5-MSP/11-2759; Memorandum of Conversation, 10 December 1959,786.5-MSP/12-1059. 124 USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation, 22 October 1959, 786B.5-MSP/10-2259. 239

Notes to pp. 108-11 125 USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation, 5 November 1959, 786B.5-MSP/11-559. See details of Kamel-Brand meeting, 27 October 1959, Lot File, Records of UAR, Box 1. 126 USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 544, 3 December 1959, 786.5-MSP/ 12-359. On Brand’s visit, see Hare to Secretary of State, Tel. 1669, 28 November 1959,786.5-MSP/l 1-2859. 127 USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Jones, 9 December 1959,786B.5-MSP/ 12-959. 128 USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation, 10 December 1959, 786B.5-MSP/12-1059; Anschuetz to Secretary of State, Tel. 1728, 4 December 1959,786B.5-MSP/12-459; FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 564-6. 129 USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Hart, 4 January 1960, Lot File, Records of UAR, Box 2; Anschuetz to Secretary of State, Tel. 1911, 22 December 1959, 786B.5-MSP/12-2259; FRUS, 1958-1960, Vol. 13, pp. 569-70. 130 USNA, RG 59, Joint USOM/Embassy Message, 24 December 1959, A-371, 786B.5-MSP/12-2459; Anschuetz to Secretary of State, Tel. 2004,2 January 1960, 786B.5-MSP/1-260; Haring to Secretary of State, Tel. 676, 5 January 1960, 786B.5-MSP/1-560. 131 USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Hart, 4 January 1960; Meyer to O’Conner, 5 January 1960; Meyer to Jones, 8 January 1960, Lot File, Records of UAR, Box 2; Herter to Cairo, Tel. 3881, 25 March 1960, 786.5-MSP/3-2360; Hart to the Under-Secretary, 1 April 1960,786B.5- MSP/4-160. 132 Ibid. 133 During the 1959/60 crop year, 850,000 tons of wheat were sent to the Egyptian region, only 150,000 tons to the Syrian region; see USNA, RG 59, Jones to the Under-Secretary, 1 July 1960,411.86B41/7-168. 134 Heikal, Sanawat al-Ghalayan, p. 509. Chapter 6

The Road to Collapse: The Political Sphere (February 1960-July 1961)

1 MER, 1960, p. 499; al-Ahram, 1 January 1960. Despite his acquaintance with the Syrian field, ‘Amir had to consult Qaysuni on various economic issues. The latter visited Syria for that purpose, see al-Hayat, 10 January, 13 February 1960. 2 PRO, Norwich to Beith, 15 January 1960, VG1017/3; Edden to Rotnie, 24 March 1960, VG1017/12, FO 371/150904; CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Dispatch 283,17 May 1960,5548/12653-40-3; The Times, 19 March 1960 (MER, 1960, p. 500). 3 Israeli sources were under the impression that ‘Abd al-Nasir unexpectedly arrived in Damascus following the tension on the Israeli-Syrian border caused by the Israeli attack against the village of Tawfiq on 31 January-1 February 1960. The visit, however, was connected with Syria’s domestic affairs and the second annual UAR celebrations. Incidentally, the Israeli operation led Egyptian forces to remilitarize Sinai, a move that caught Israel unprepared. On this episode (called in Israel “Rotem”), see M. Ma‘oz, Syria and Israel: From War to Peacekeeping (Oxford: 1995), pp. 70-1 ; U. Bar-Joseph, “Parashat Rotem” (The Rotem Affair), Ma ‘archot. No. 347 (April 1996), pp. 16-28 (Hebrew). See also reference to this episode in my Conclusions. 240

Notes to pp. 111-13 4 MER, 1960, p. 499. Most of the following information was taken from these sources: PRO, Edden to Rothnie, 24 March 1960, VG1017/12, FO 150904; Crowe to Lloyd, Dispatch 16, 19 April 1960, VG1016/2, FO 371/150902; USNA, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 936, 4 March 1960, 786B.0Q/3-460; Tel. 994, 19 March 1960, 786B.00/3-1960; Ireland to Secretary of State, Tel. 158, 21 March 1960, 786B.00/3-2160. 5 For such an assessment, see USNA, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 126,9 August 1959,786B.00/8-959. ‘Abd al-Karim charged that the appointment of Tzz al-Din and Hunaydi was a clever move by ‘Abd al-Nasir because the two were close friends of Nafuri and ‘Abd al-Karim. Since the latter two attempted to resign (see below), the president thus drove a wedge between the former friends. See Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 289-93. 6 USNA, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 936,4 March 1960,786B.00/3-460. The other was Dr ‘Izzat al-Tarabulsi, Governor of Syrian Central Bank. 7 PRO, Crowe to Lloyd, Dispatch 16,19 April 1960, VG1016/4, FO 371/150902. 8 See the story as related by ‘Abd al-Karim, Adwa’ ‘ala Tajribat al-Wahda, pp. 264-90. 9 MER, 1960, pp. 499-500; Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 242. 10 MER, 1960, pp. 475-6,500. 11 Some of the diplomats who were forced to retire came from distinguished Syrian families: Khalid al-‘Asali, Ma’mun al-Haffar, Tahir al-Atasi, Anis al-Malki, Sami al-Khouri, Nadir al-Kuzbari, Muhammad Adib al-Sh‘alan and many more. For a partial list, see USNA, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 341,6 April 1959, 786B. 14/4-659. See also Intelligence Report. 11 March 1960,786B.00/3-2460. 12 CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Dispatch 113,3 March 1960,6143/50405-B-40-5.1. 13 USNA, Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 51, 30 August 1960, 786B.00/8-3060; Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 484, 15 March 1960, 886B.0Q/3-1560. For further reports, see Dispatch 108, 26 September 1959, 886B.00/9-2659. 14 See conversation with the Egyptian secretary-general of the Ministry of Industry, USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 437, 13 February 1960, 786B.5-MSP/2-1360. See also Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 51, 30 August 1960, 786B.0Q/8-3060; PRO, Edden to Beith, 16 October 1959, VG1016/39, FO 371/141899. See also Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 231-2. 15 This term appeared in ibid., p. 231. 16 Quoted in PRO, Edden to Hadow, 24 December 1958, FO 371/134385. 17 Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 240. See also Haikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, p. 75. 18 Ibid., p. 76. 19 USNA, RG 59, Intelligence Report, 11 March 1960, attached to Meyer to Jones, 24 March 1960, 786B.00/3-2460; Meyer to Jones, 22 December 1960, Lot File, Records of the UAR, Box 2. According to Canadian sources, during ‘Amir’s mission in Syria between 150-450 Syrian officers were purged and replaced by Egyptians. See CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Dispatch 113, 3 March 1960,6143/ 241

Notes to pp. 113-16

20 21 22


24 25 26


28 29



50405-B-40-5.1. Heikal claimed that most of the Egyptian officers were stationed along the Syrian-Israeli border - which seems inaccurate. See Ma AUadhi Jara f i Suriya, pp. 75-6. USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Jones, 22 December 1960, Lot File, Records of the UAR, Box 2. APD, 1963,14 March 1963,2nd Meeting, p. 81. See also pp. 82-3. Seale, Asad: The Strugglefor the Middle East (Berkeley: 1988), p. 60. See, e.g., the reasons for the transfer of Brigadier Mussalim al-Sabbagh, Commander of the Northern Area in Syria: USNA, RG 59, Ireland to Department of State, Dispatch 130,3 February 1961,786B.00/2-361. Asad was one of about 200 officers transferred to Egypt following the rupture between ‘Abd al-Nasir and the Ba‘th (see ch. 5). For further details on the Military Committee, see Seale, Asad, pp. 60-4. The committee adopted, inter alia, a reso­ lution that “there is to be no cooperation with all those who cooperated with the regime of the Syrian-Egyptian union, except if circumstances make this necessary.” See N. Van Dam, “The Struggle for Power in Syria and the Ba‘th party (1958-1966),” Orient, Vol. 14 (1973), p. 10. USNA, RG 59, Reinhardt to Department of State, Dispatch 747, 23 March 1961, Al-Jarida, 19 January 1961; L ’Orient, 25 January 1961; Ha’aretz, 26 January, 10 February 1961; Filastin, 24 January 1961; MER, 1961, p. 596. MER, 1960, p. 483; PRO, Crowe to Lloyd, Dispatch 53,22 July 1960, VG1016/18, FO 371/150902; USNA, RG 59, Ross to Department of State, Dispatch 434, 13 February 1960,786B.00/2-1360; ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir, pp. 282-7. Al-Ahram, 16 June 1960; USNA, RG 59, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 917, 16 June 1960, 786B.00/6-1660; ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir, pp. 282-7. Al-Ahram, 16 June 1960; USNA, RG 59, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 917,16 June 1960,786B.00/6-1660. A few newspapers in French, Greek, and Armenian were exempted from the decree. On the law, see PRO, Crowe to FO, Tel. 64 Saving, 25 May 1960, VG1014/26, FO 371/150898; ISA, Background Paper, No. 542/S, 12June 1960,3763/4; MER, 1960, pp. 508-9; al-Ahram, 25 May 1960; The Times, 25 May 1960; A. Almaney, “Government Control of the Press in the United Arab Republic, 1952-1970,” Journalism Quarterly, Vol. 49 (1972), pp. 344-7. CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Tel. 398, 28 May 1960, 6143/ 50405-B-40-5.2. In contrast, see his three articles in al-Ahram, 28 May, 1, 3 June 1960. See also R. Cairo, 28 May 1960 (BBC, No. 346,30 May I960, pp. 1-2); MER, 1960, pp. 508-9. ‘Abd al-Nasir obviously contributed as well to the campaign: on 28 May, he addressed new members of the press boards accusing the media of giving too much publicity to crime, sex, and gossip. “The society we want to build up," he said, “is definitely not the Cairo society, or that of the National Club or the Zamalik Club . . . The true face of our country is to be found at the village of Kafr el-Battikh or any village for that matter.” He also castigated press coverage of sex: “Why do we

Notes to pp. 116-18

31 32


34 35


37 38 39 40 41 42

43 44 45

have to keep talking about sex,” he asked. “I don’t think that a clean society encour­ ages sex talk. The papers keep hammering away at sex . . . Such illustrations [sex cartoons] may sell half a score more copies, but their destructive effect on society is certain.” For the full text of the speech, see Egyptian Gazette, 31 May 1960. For summary and excerpts, see MER, 1960, pp. 473-4; PRO, Crowe to FO, Tel. 69 Saving, 2 June 1960, VG1014/26, FO 371/150898. Ruz al-Yusuf, 31 October 1960. In fact, it seems that the move was primarily directed against the Amin brothers, who had not always accepted official guidance. See CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Tel. 398,28 May 1960,6143/50405-B-40-5.2. As a result, ‘Ali Amin was moved to Dar al-Hilal. Mustafa Amin was initially forced to retire but later given a posi­ tion in Dar al-Hilal as well. In 1961, he was arrested for holding secret contacts with US agents. He escaped from prison in 1965, but was sentenced to life imprisonment in 1966. He was released in 1974. MER, 1960, p. 485; Radio Damascus, 11 June 1960 (BBC, No. 358,14 June 1960, pp. 9-12); PRO, Chancery Cairo to Levant Department, 27 June 1960, VG1016/10, FO 371/150902. USNA, RG 59, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 917, 16 June 1960, 786B.00/6-1660. For texts of the Syrian speeches, see R. Damascus, 20 June 1960 (BBC, No. 365, 22 June 1960, pp. 6-17; No. 366, 23 June 1960, pp. 1-4. For the Egyptian, see R. Cairo, 20 June 1960 BBC, No. 365, pp. 17-20, No. 366, pp. 4-5). For the Syrian decisions, see R. Damascus, 24 June 1960 (BBC, No. 373, 1 July 1960, pp. 1-5); Al-Ahram, 25 June 1960; MER, 1960, p. 485. For the Egyptian deci­ sions, see R. Cairo, 23 June 1960 (BBC, No. 372,30 June 1960, pp. 6-8); al-Ahram, 24 June 1960; MER, 1960, p. 485. Voice of the Arabs, 24 June 1960 (BBC, No. 369,27 June 1960, p. 10). PRO, Crowe to Lloyd, Dispatch 53, 22 July 1960, VG1016/18; Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 59,8 August 1960, VG1016/20, FO 371/150902. Voice of the Arabs and R. Damascus, 9 July 1960 (BBC, No. 382,12 July 1960, p. 13). For the text of the speech, see pp. 1-13; for a summary, see MER, 1960, p. 485. See, e.g., R. Cairo, 13 July 1960 (BBC, No. 385,15 July 1960, pp. 1-3). PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 59, 8 August 1960, VG1016/20, FO 371/150902. PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 59, 8 August 1960, VG1016/20, FO 371/ 150902. On the resolutions, see Voice of the Arabs and R. Damascus, 16 July 1960 (BBC, No. 389,20 July 1960, pp. l^t); USNA, RG 59, Reinhaidt to Secretary of State, Tel. 165, 18 July 1960,786B.00/7-1860; MER, 1960, p. 485. PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 53, 22 July 1960, VG1016/18, FO 371/150902. Ruz al-Yusuf, 19 October 1960; Akhbar al-Yawm, 24 October 1960; MER, 1960, pp. 487-8. USNA, RG 59, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 116, 17 August 1960, 786B.00/8-1760. 243

Notes to pp. 118-22 46 For the various activities during 1961, see MER, 1961, pp. 587-91. 47 USNA, RG 59, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 914, 15 May 1961, 786B.0Q/5-1561. 48 APD, 1963,19 March 1963,1st Meeting, p. 101. 49 Silbermann, “National Identity,” p. 63. On the change in Egyptian textbooks in 1957, see Kienle, “Arab Unity Schemes Revisited,” p. 64. 50 Abdel-Malik, Egypt: Military Society, pp. 256-7; Sayegh, al-Fikra al- 'Arabiyyafi Misr, pp. 304-7; M. Klein, The Intellectuals in Nasser’s Egypt (Ph.D Dissertation, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 1992), pp. 68,276-7 (Hebrew). 51 A. Smith, “State-Making and Nation-Building,” in J. Hall (ed.), States in History (Oxford: 1987), pp. 257-8. 52 See, e.g., Silbermann, “National Identity,” pp. 63-5; Klein, The Intellectuals in Nasser’s Egypt, p. 103. 53 Later in his speech, ‘Abd al-Nasir depicted Salah al-Din’s triumph over the crusaders at the battle of Hittin (1187) and the victory over the Mongols in the battle of Ein-Galut (1260) as resulting from the union of the Egyptian and Syrian armies; see R. Cairo and Damascus, 20 March 1958 (BBC, No. 507, 22 March 1958, pp. 1-9). 54 R. Damascus, 24 June 1960 (BBC, No. 373,1 July 1960, p. 1). 55 A. Loya, “Radio Propaganda of the United Arab Republic - An Analysis,” Middle Eastern Affairs, Vol. 13 (April 1962), pp. 98-110. 56 Examples of titles: ‘Urubatuna (“Our Arabism”); Dawla Kubrafi al-Sharq al-Awsat (“A Great State in the Middle East”); Risalat al-Ittihad al-Qawmi (“The Mission of the National Union”); al-Wahda (“The Union”). See in this connection, Klein, The Intellectuals in Nasser’s Egypt, pp. 187-209; idem, “Ikhtama Laka (We Have Selected for You): A Critique of Egypt’s Revolutionary Culture,” Orient, Vol. 38 (1997). 57 See, e.g., al-Wahda: Madin Majid wa-Mustaqbal Mushriq (Cairo: 1958). The book opens with a quote of ‘Abd al-Nasir: “we shall all fight for the sake of unity of the Arab homeland from the Arab Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean.” The series was called “al-Ta‘bi’a al-'Amma” (“General Conscription”) see Sayegh, al-Fikra al‘Arabiyya fi Misr, pp. 304-5. 58 Klein, The Intellectuals in Nasser’s Egypt, p. 194. 59 Silbermann asserted that the 24th anniversary of the death of Zaghlul, founder and leader of the Wafd party, was mentioned only in passing, and that the 1919 rebel­ lion was almost completely ignored; see “National Identity,” pp. 66-7. See, e.g., two textbooks for the elementary school: al-Tilmidh wa-Watanihi (Cairo: the Central Ministry of Education, 1961); Dirasa fi Jugrafiat al-Jumhuriyya al‘Arabiyya al-Muttahida (Cairo: the Ministry of Education of the Southern Region, 1960). 60 Salah al-Din Bitar, “Intaguna al-Fikri,” al-Hilal, Vol. 67 (June 1959), pp. 49-51. 61 Egyptian Gazette, 17 July 1960. 62 Al-Moski is a well-known market in Cairo, al-Hamiddiyya a famous market in Damascus. The extent to which this song became a symbol of the union is indicated 244

Notes to pp. 122-4


64 65


67 68

69 70 71 72

73 74

by its appearance in Egyptian plays: see, e.g., Lenin al-Ramli, Sa'dum al-Majnun. Trans, into Hebrew by A. Hakim and G. Rosenbaum (Tel-Aviv: 1998), p. 90.1want to thank the latter for providing me with this information. See an interview with ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Bakkar, a famous Syrian broadcaster, alDustur, 22 February 1988. These symbols could be found in Arab cartoons as well, especially in the Syrian newspapers following the secession. Abdel-Malik, Egypt: Military Society, p. 261 ; Rejwan, Nasserist Ideology, p. 60. See, ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Rafa‘i, “al-Ba‘th al-‘Arabi,” al-Hilal, Vol. 67 (January 1959), pp. 16-19; “Tahaqqaqat Hadhihi al-Intisarat,” ibid. (February 1959), pp. 8-11; “Ramadan: Shahr al-Ta‘awwun li-Majd al-Watan al-‘Arabi,” ibid. (March 1959), pp. 13-15; “al-Qawmiyya al-‘Arabiyya,” ibid., Vol. 69 (November 1961), pp. 10-13. It should be noted that Rafa‘i was a staunch supporter of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s regime since its foundation. In 1958 he was nominated member of the Higher Council for Sponsoring Art, Literature and Social Sciences, and in 1961 awarded the social sciences’ prize; see Lami‘ al-Mati‘i, Mawsu'at hadha al-Rajulmin Misr (Cairo: 1997), pp. 228-35. Taha Husayn, “Qawmiyatuna al-*Arabiyya,” al-Hilal, Vol. 67 (January 1959), pp. 32-7. On Husayn’s other views as expressed in the 1930s and 1940s, see Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, pp. 51-2,69-70. Husayn’s lecture, however, was not inconsistent with his previous writings since he thought Egypt was entitled to be the cultural leader of the Arab world; see ibid., pp. 127-8, 139. Interestingly enough, it was the last congress of the Arab Writers as a result of Egyptian-Iraqi animosity; see Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, p. 267. This issue was discussed at length in the summer of 1961; see al-Ahram, 31 May, 10,16,30 June, 21 July 1961; Silbermann, “National Identity,” p. 63. Interestingly, an independent weekly called Watani (“My Homeland”), referring to Egypt only, was published by Christian Copts. See Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, p. 263. See, e.g., the testimony of Jasim ‘Alwan in al-Dustur, 22 February 1988. Tharwat ‘Ukasha, Mudhakkirati fi al-Siyasa wa-al-Thaqafa, Vol. 1 (Cairo: 1987), pp. 498-608. For the text of the constitution, see Hasou, The Struggle for the Arab World, Appendix E. See also MER, 1960, p. 489. Al-Ayyam, 6 March 1960. In late January, ‘Abd al-Nasir was still undecided: to a question of a German journalist whether there would be one or two parliaments, he answered that “this matter is still under consideration.” See MENA, 26 January 1960 (BBC, No. 244, 28 January 1960, p. 9). Sarraj gave a similar statement; see his interview with the Germans, R. Damascus, 30 January 1960 (BBC, No. 248, 2 February 1960, p. 7). Al-Ahram, 5 May 1960. According to Israeli and Indian sources the number of former members of parlia­ ment in the NA was 345:299 out of the original 350 members of the former Egyptian NA and 46 out of the 142 members of the Syrian chamber. See MER, 1960, p. 490; ISA, IDF Special Intelligence Estimate, 2 August 1960,3763/4. American sources 245

Notes to pp. 124-7


76 77

78 79 80 81


83 84 85





gave a somewhat different account: 288 of the former Egyptian NA and only 38 of the former Syrian Chamber. See USNA, RG 39, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 247,17 October 1960,786B.0Q/10-1760. ISA, IDF Special Intelligence Report, 2 August 1960,3763/4; PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 62, 17 August 1960, VG1016/23, FO 371/150903; MER, 1960, p. 490. For the text, see R. Cairo, 21 July 1960 (BBC, No. 392,23 July 1960, pp. 4-8). MER, 1960, p. 491. The Iranian episode became a major issue in ‘Abd al-Nasir’s annual speech at Alexandria; see R. Cairo, 26 July 1960 (BBC, No. 396, 28 July 1960, pp. 1-5). PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 92,8 December 1960, VG1015/23, FO 371/ 150903; MER, 1960, pp. 492-3. PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 92,8 December 1960, VG1015/23, FO 371/ 150903; MER, 1960, p. 493. PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 92,8 December 1960, VG1015/23, FO 371/ 150903. For more criticism of the NA, see MER, 1960, p. 493. USNA, RG 59, Ireland to Department of State, Dispatch 140, 16 February 1961, 786B.00/2-1661; PRO, Wright to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 21,10 March 1961, VG1016/11, FO 371/158786. For details on the composition of the committee, see MER, 1961, p. 590. The new British Ambassador in Cairo, Harold Beeley, reported that the appeal became a laughing-stock in the UAR; a common joke was that Sadat’s committee openly admitted its inability to write the constitution and had decided to let the general public have a try. See PRO, Beeley to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 66, 13 July 1961, VG1016/20, FO 371/158786. MER, 1960, p. 591. PRO, Beeley to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 66, 13 July 1961, VG1016/20, FO 371/158786. PRO, Wright to Beith, 18 October 1960, VG1015/27, FO 371/150901 (Arthur’s visit, 7-12 October 1960). As early as January 1960, the US consul-general described him as the “Eminence Grise of Syria,” see USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 728, 15 January 1960,786B.0Q/1-1560. For biographical details of Sarraj, see Seale, Struggle for Syria, p. 245; USNA, RG 59, Strong to Dorman, 7 March 1958,786B. 13/3-758; Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 728,16 January 1960,786B.0Q/1-1560. CNA, RG 25, Smith to DEA, Tel. 654,4 August 1959,6139/50405-A-40-8.1;Tel. 948, 20 October 1959, 7808/12653-1-40-2.2; Tel. 996, 3 November 1959, 6143/50405-B-40-5.1. USNA, RG 59, Kocher (Amman) to Secretary of State, Tel. 547,1 October 1960, 786B.00/10-160. The pilot eventually was reported to have committed suicide. See Tel. 580, 5 October 1960, 786B.00/10-560. A ceremony in his memory was held on 11 October at Cairo University attended by ‘Amir, Kamal al-Din Husayn, Baghdadi and Kahala. See Reinhardt to Secretary of State, Tel. 208, 14 October 1960,786B.00/10-1460.

Notes to pp. 127-8 89 Dann, King Hussein, p. 111. 90 PRO, Edden to Beith, 13 September 1960, VG1015/18, FO 371/150901. Shemesh wrote that “under the guise of manoeuvres... armour, infantry, and artillery forces were concentrated at Mafraq. ‘D-Day’ was to be around 11-12 September”; see The Palestinian Entity, p. 20. 91 The evidence is not conclusive. See, however, the reference to this episode in the American appraisal of the successful Syrian coup of September 1961; see FRUS, 1961-1962, Vol. 17, p. 259. 92 USNA, RG 59, Heiter to Amman, Tel. 362,14 September 1960,786B.00/9-1460. 93 On 19 December 1960, the Jordanian Ambassador, Wasfi Tall, arrived to Baghdad; see Dann, King Hussein, pp. 112-13. 94 Ibid., p. 112. 95 For statements on these explosions, see R. Damascus, 27 October 1960 (BBC, No. 474.28 October 1960, pp. 2-3); R. Amman and Cairo, 27 October 1960 (BBC, No. 475.29 October 1960, pp. 2-3); R. Beirut, 28 October 1960, R. Cairo, 29 October 1960 (BBC, No. 476, 31 October 1960, pp. 3-4). There were other sources that attributed these activities to Salah Shishakli, the brother of Adib Shishakli, who was assisted by some Lebanese elements. USNA, RG 59, Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 117, 3 November 1960, 786B.0Q/ 11-360. For an excellent report on Jordanian activity against Syria, see ISA, “The Internal Situation in Syria,” 21 November 1960,3763/5. % MER, 1960, p. 505. Interestingly, the US consul-general in Damascus reported that many Syrians believed that the bombs were actually planted by Sarraj’s men: “The positioning of the mechanisms (one about a meter away from a guard box, where there is always a guard on 24-hour duty, but fortunately not on the night of October 25), the lack of victims, damage to buildings, etc. lend credence to the theory that this was a put-up job.” USNA, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 117, 3 November 1960,786B.00/11-360. 97 The improvement of relations was reflected in the exchange of friendly letters between Husayn and ‘Abd al-Nasir in February-March 1961; for the text, see Middle Eastern Affairs, Vol. 12 (May 1961), pp. 140-8. 98 PRO, Edden to Beith, 13 September 1960, VG1015/18, FO 371/150901. 99 On Arthur’s visit (7-12 October), see PRO, Wright to Beith, 18 October 1960, VG1015/27, FO 371/150901. 100 R. Amman, 19 October 1960 (BBC, No. 468,21 October 1960, p. 3). For possible indications of the existence of a Free Officers organization in Syria, see ISA, IDF report, “The Internal Situation in Syria,” 21 November 1960,3763/5. The fact that ‘Abd al-Nasir raised the issue in his talk with the US ambassador indicates that he was sincerely disturbed about the Jordanian activity. See USNA, Reinhardt to Department of State, Dispatch 342,15 November 1960,786B.11/11-1560. 101 Al-Nahar, 21,28 August, 3 September 1960 (quoted in MER, 1960, pp. 504-5). See also ISA, an IDF intelligence report, “The Internal Situation in Syria,” 21 November 1960,3763/5. 102 PRO, Wright to Beith, 18 October 1960, VG1015/27, FO 371/150901. ‘Amir’s 247

Notes to pp. 128-31 mission to Syria was never officially terminated. However, Sarraj’s appointment and the fact that Vice-President Kahala occupied 'Amir’s office at the presidential palace since 26 September indicated that his mission was indeed finished. See USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 346, 28 September 1960, 786B.00/9-2860. On the significance of Sarraj’s appointment, see Tel. 317, 21 September 1960, 786B .00/9-2160. The Lebanese al-Jarida (22 September 1960) claimed that in the power struggle between ‘Amir and Sarraj, the latter had gained the upper hand since ‘Abd al-Nasir decided to use his services in suppressing the growing opposition in Syria. 103 See.e.g., USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 120,3November 1960, 786B .il/ll-360. There were reports that ‘Amir’s Complaints Bureau received more complaints against Sarraj than on any other single subject. See PRO, Wright to Beith, 180ctober 1960, VG 1015/27, FO 371/150901 ; Heikal, Ma A lladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 105-13. 104 For an assessment of the visit, see USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 120, 3 November 1960, 786B .il/ll-360; Meyer to Jones, 18 October 1960, 786B.00/10-1860; Ireland to Department of State, Dispatch 57, 17 October 1960,786B.11/10-1760; PRO, Spears (Washington) to O’Regan, 19 October 1960, VG1015/28, FO 371/150901. On ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches, see BBC, No. 464,17 October 1960, pp. 1-10; MER, 1960, pp. 506-7. 105 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 182,14 December 1960, 786B.00/ 12-1460. 106 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 182, 14 December 1960, 786B.00/ 12-1460. For further reports on the visit, see Ireland to Department of State, Dispatch 94, 29 December 1960, .00/12-2960. See also Knight’s report on his first meeting with Sarraj, Dispatch 171,10 December 1960,786B.00/12-1060. 107 PRO, Clarke to Beith, 4 April 1961, VG1018/7, FO 371/158797. Chapter7

The Road to Collapse: The Economic Sphere (February 1960-July 1961)

1 See the text of the speech, Voice of the Arabs, 23 December 1959 (BBC, No. 217, 28 December 1959, pp. 7-19). This theme also appeared in two important inter­ views with foreign correspondents: with the New York Times, see MENA, 6 November 1959 (BBC, No. 177,9 November 1959, pp. 1-9); and with German jour­ nalists, MENA, 26 January 1960 (BBC, No. 244,28 January 1960, pp. 5-11). 2 See his Port Sa‘id Speech, as noted above. The data was given in his interview with the New York Times, see MENA, 6 November 1959 (BBC, No. 177,9 November 1959, p. 7). 3 Al-Ahram, 3 February 1960. Quoted in R. Cairo, 3 February 1960 (BBC, 4 February 1960, pp. 7-9). 4 For Qaysuni’s statement, see R. Cairo, 12 February 1960 (BBC, No. 259, 15 February 1960, pp. 1-3). For further details on the law, see PRO, Crowe to FO, Tel. 30 Saving, 17 February 1960, FO 371/150897; MER, 1960, p. 463. The National Bank was originally a commercial bank founded in 1898, with its head office in London. In 1951, the bank was Egyptianized and established as Egypt’s central 248

Notes to pp. 131-3



7 8

9 10 11

12 13 14 15 16

17 18


bank. The Misr Bank was founded in 1920 as a commercial bank, but since the early 1930s it played a major role in economic life, controlling 22 large companies. It was claimed that companies affiliated to the bank accounted for 20 per cent of Egypt’s industrial output, including half of all textile production. See P. O’Brien, The Revolution in Egypt’s Economic System: From Private Enterprise to Socialism, 1952-1965 (London: 1966), p. 125. USNA, RG 59, Reinhardt to Secretary of State, Tel. 2780, 8 March 1960, 786B.5-MSP/ 3-860. The ambassador was probably quoting a foreign correspon­ dent in Cairo, who had written: “the business community existed in a state of gloom wondering where the axe would fall next.” Quoted in O’Brien, Revolution in Egypt's Economic System, p. 126. See also MER, 1960, pp. 463—4. For a translation of the report, see USNA, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 310,14 December 1959,868B.0Q/12-1459. See Sarraj’s statement on expected Syrian projects, R. Damascus, 13 March 1960 (BBC, No. 285, 16 March 1960, pp. 6-10). For budget appropriations for the projects, see R. Damascus, 14 March 1960 (BBC, ibid., p. 10). For another state­ ment, see R. Damascus, 16 March 1960 (BBC, No. 288,19 March 1960, pp. 3-4). See also PRO, Edden to Rothnie, 24 March 1960, VG1017/12, FO 371/150904; Commercial Secretariat to Board of Trade, 3 June 1960, VG1116/3, FO 371/150955. O’Brien, Revolution in Egypt's Economic System, p. 90. See his press conference, R. Damascus, 18 June 1960 (BBC, No. 364,21 June 1960, PP- 1-2). For Qaysuni’s press conference, see R. Damascus, 18 June 1960 (BBC, No. 364,21 June 1960, p. 2); USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 641, 28 June 1960, 886B.00/6-2860; Meyer to Jones, 24 March 1960, 886B.00/3-2460; PRO, Commercial Secretariat (Beirut) to Board of Trade, 30 March 1960, FO 371/150946. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 489, 18 March 1960, 886B.0Q/ 3-1860. USNA, RG 59, Reinhardt to Secretary of State, Tel. 2915,19 March 1960,786B.00/ 3-1960; Meyer to Jones, 24 March 1960,886B.00/3-2460. See, e.g., USNA, RG 59, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 74,20 September 1961,886B.00/9-2061. PRO, Edden to Beith, 11 July 1960, VG1017/23, FO 371/150904. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 103, 13 October 1960, 886B.0O/1O-136O; Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 631, 6 June 1960, 886B.00/6-660. USNA, RG 59, Reams to Secretary of State, Tel. 4 7 ,16July 1960.786B.00/7-1660. ANA, 23,24 April 1960 (BBC, No. 317,26 April 1960, p. 9); PRO, Edden to Beith, 26 April 1960, VG1017/16, FO 371/150904; USNA, RG 59, Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 631,6 June 1960, 886B .00/6-660. USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 103, 13 October 1960, 886B.00/ 10-1360; Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 631, 6 June 1960, 249

Notes to pp. 133-6

20 21


23 24 25

26 27 28 29 30 31

32 33 34 35 36

37 38 250

886B.0Q/6-660. It should be noted that the whole transaction was hardly mentioned in the local press. Sarraj, in particular, made attempts to block the deal because he thought the US would exploit it for propaganda uses. Even the pro-Western Sawwaf asked the US not to press for publicity since it might have “an adverse effect in the long run.” See USNA, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 179,14 December 1960,786B.5-MSP/12-1460. USNA, RG 59, Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 631, 6 June 1960, 886B.0Q/6-660. For details on the budgets, see the following sources: R. Cairo, 1 July 1960 (BBC, No. 375,4 July 1960, pp. 1-4); 2 July 1960 (BBC, No. 376,5 July 1960, pp. 1-5); ibid.. Weekly Supplement, No. W64, 7 July 1960; PRO, Crowe to FO, Tel. 82, 7 July 1960, VG1116/4, Tel. 83 Saving, 7 July 1960, VG1116/4 (A), FO 371/150955. For details, see the sources mentioned above and MER, 1960, p. 465; PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 96,21 December 1960, VG1103/42, FO 371/150950. The Five-Year Plans were the main subject of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s opening speech to the National Assembly, see R. Cairo, 21 July 1960 (BBC, No. 392, 23 July 1960, pp. 4-8). USNA, RG 59, Reams to Department of State, Dispatch 631, 6 June 1960, 886B.0Q/6-660. The figures seem exaggerated; compare with table 4.5. See Qaysuni’s statement, R. Cairo, 2 July 1960 (BBC, No. 376, 5 July 1960, pp. 1-6). See also PRO, Commercial Secretary to Board of Trade, 16 July 1960, VG1103/33, FO 371/150949. Quoted in O’Brien, Revolution in Egypt’s Economic Policy, p. 127. R. Cairo and Damascus, 9 July 1960 (BBC, No. 382,12 July 1960, pp. 8-9). Quoted in O’Brien, Revolution in Egypt’s Economic System, p. 126. R. Damascus, 18 August 1960 (BBC, No. 414,19 August 1960, pp. 4-5). MER, 1960, p. 504. Khoury wrote of Barudi in the mandate period: “He was probably the most popular politician in Damascus . . . Bardudi maintained a large personal following among merchants and artisans and among the Damascus intelligentsia, who respected him in spite of his rather limited formal education. See Syria and the French Mandate, p. 275. Barudi was also a well-known Arab nationalist and one of his poems was highly popular, see Haim, Arab Nationalism, p. 46. R. Damascus, 23 August 1960 (BBC, No. 419,25 August 1960, p. 7). For details on the law, see al-Ahram, 2-4 May 1959; MER, 1960, p. 502. For the text, see MENA, 4 July 1960 (BBC, No. 382, 5 July 1960, pp. 1-5). AlAhram (5 July 1960) termed it “Socialism in Taxes.” Petran, Syria: A Modem History (London: 1978), pp. 140-1. These resolutions were published by the Ba’th organ in Lebanon, al-Sahafa, 8 August 1960 (quoted in MER, 1960, p. 503). For further criticism, see ibid., pp. 502-3. MER, 1960, p. 503; Frost, The UAR, pp. 256-7; Petran, Syria, p. 141. MER, 1960, p. 503; Frost, The UAR, 259.

Notes to pp. 136-8 39 MER, 1960, p. 502; al-Ayyam, 9 January 1961; Petran, Syria, p. 141. 40 MER, 1961, p. 598; Frost, The UAR, p. 260. 41 USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 185,14 December 1960, 886B.00/ 12-1460. 42 MER, 1961, p. 598; Frost, The UAR, p. 281. According to a Lebanese newspaper, the Syrian EC discussed the economic situation and decided, based on Hansen’s recommendations, to demand from Cairo to maintain Syria’s liberal economic system. See al-Jarida, 1 February 1961. 43 USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 330, 9 March 1961, 886B.00/ 3-961. Members of the committee were members of the old economic élite: Dr ‘Awad Barakat, former director of Syria’s Central Bank; ‘Adil al-Khoja and Badr al-Din Diyab - wealthy businessmen of the Company of Five; Ahmad Qanbar, a former member of the People’s Party; and ‘Abd al-Ghani Hammur, a young Damascene industrialist. The committee also included a sub-committe for agricultural affairs, composed of ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Hunaydi, ‘Abd al-Majid Rustum and ‘Abd al-Hamid Qunbaz - all wealthy former ministers. 44 CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 22,11 January 1961,5551/12659-40. 45 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 516, 12 January 1961, 886B.00/1-1261. 46 On Tarabulsi’s resignation, see USNA, Reinhardt to Secretary of State, Tel. 414,7 February 1961, 886B.00/2-761; CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 87, 8 February 1961, 5551/12659-40; MER, 1961, p. 598; The Economist, 18 February 1961. According to a Canadian report, Tarabulsi did not resign, but the UAR government decided not to extend his term of office after its routine expiry on 31 January because it knew he would oppose the new currency regulations. See CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Tel. 223,11 April 1961,5551/12659-40. 47 For the text of the new decree, see Radio Cairo, 5 February 1961 (BBC, No. 559,7 February 1961, pp. 1-4). For further details, see CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Tel. 80, 7 February 1961, 5551/12659-50; IMF, 1960 Consultations - Supplementary Information, 3 March 1961,5551/12659-40. 48 PRO, Wright to FO, Tel. 19 Saving, 4 March 1961, VG1111/11, FO 371/158828; Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 10E, 20 April 1961, VG1101/7, FO 371/158817. 49 Although the Egyptian gold reserves were still substantia], the main fluctuations in foreign holdings took place in foreign treasury bills (about LE 15.3 million) and cash holdings (LE 6.1 million). On 6 February, Egypt reportedly transferred a further LE 2 million to Syria. See CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 164, 15 March 1961,5551/12659-40; Tel. 80,7 February 1961, ibid. 50 CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 216, 12 April 1961,5551/12659-40. 51 R. Damascus, 8 February 1961 (BBC, No. 562,10 February 1961, pp. 2-3). Further on the regulations, R. Damascus, 9 February 1961 (BBC, No. 563, 11 February 1961, pp. 1-3); 11 February 1961 (BBC, No. 565, 14 February 1961, p. 3); 19 February 1961 (BBC, No. 571,21 February 1961, pp. 1-2); MER, 1961, p. 599. 52 ‘Abd al-Nasir was probably referring to Tarabulsi, former Governor of Syria’s 251

Notes to pp. 138-42

53 54 55


57 58

59 60 61

62 63 64 65

66 67

68 69 252

Central Bank; see Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 577, 24 February 1961, 786B.0Q/2-2461. R. Cairo and Damascus, 20 February 1961 (BBC, No. 572,22 February 1961, p. 5). ATT, 6 March 1961. See also R. Cairo and Damascus, 22 February 1961 (BBC, No. 574,24 February 1961, p. 5). R. Damascus, 3 March 1961 (BBC, No. 582,6 March 1961, pp. 1-5); MER, 1961, p. 599; PRO, Crowe to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 10E, VG1111/11, FO 371/158825; USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 593,6 March 1961, 886B .00/3-661. Of the 19 banks operating in Syria, 6 were UAR-owned, 6 nonUAR Arab and 7 non-Arab. See al-Hayat, 5 March 1961. R. Cairo and Damascus, 3 March 1961 (BBC, No. 582, 6 March 1961, pp. 3-5); USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 589, 4 March 1961, 886B.00/3-461. For figures, see al-Ayyam, 30 April 1961 (MER, 1961, p. 599). It is interesting that Nazmy particularly asked not to be quoted on the above discus­ sion. See USNA, Clark to Department of State, 7 March 1961,886B .00/3-761. For a similar assessment, see the report of the Canadian counselor following his visit to Syria, CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 216,12 April 1961,5551/12659-40. USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 602, 11 March 1961, 886B.00/3-1161. Ruzal-Yusuf, 13 March 1961. The average rainfall in these areas is as follows: Damascus (200-300); Homs (400-500); Aleppo (400-500); Idlib (400-500); Suwayda (300-400); Latakiyya (over 600); Dir al-Zur (100-200); Hasaka (200-300); Qamishli (300-400). See the IBRD’s The Economic Development of Syria, Map 3; Warriner, Land Reform, p. 85. PRO, Arthur’s Minute, 28 January 1961, VG1018/3, FO 371/158797; Clarke to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 10E, 20 April 1961, VG1101/7, FO 371/158817. CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Tel. 80,7 February 1961,5551/12659-40. USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 602, 11 March 1961, 886B.00/3-1161. It should be noted that the reports on these meetings came mainly from govern­ mental sources. See R. Damascus, 30 March 1961,1 April 1961, MENA, 31 March 1961 (BBC, No. 605,5 April 1961, p. 14); MENA, 3 April 1961, R. Damascus, 4 April 1961 (BBC, No. 606, 6 April 1961, p. 8); MER, 1961, p. 600. Economy Minister Sawwaf also met a delegation of money-change dealers complaining about the new currency regulations; see al-Hayat, 8-10, February 1961. See, e.g., al-Jumhuriyya, 20 February 1961 ; Ruz al-Yusuf, 27 February 1961. Quoted in O’Brien, The Revolution in Egypt’s Economic System, p. 128. See also PRO, Beeley to FO, Tels. 38, 39 Saving, 15 April 1961, VG1114/2-3, FO 371/158828. In May 1961, Qaysuni again denied rumors that the government was contemplating any nationalization measures. CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Tel. 223,11 April 1961,5551/12659-40. For more details on the decrees, see MER, 1961, pp. 581-3; O’Brien, Revolution in

Notes to pp. 142-4


71 72

73 74

75 76 77 78 79 80 81


Egypt’s Economic System, pp. 130-2; Abdel-Malek, Egypt: Military Society, pp. 151— 3; Z. Keilany, “Socialism and Economic Change in Syria,” Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. 9 (1973); pp. 65-6; M. Kerr, “The Emergence of a Socialist Ideology in Egypt,” Middle East Journal, Vol. 16 (1962), pp. 128-9; PRO, Beeley to FO, Tel. 784, 27 July 1961, VG1102/37; Beeley to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 76, 31 July 1961, VG1102/40, FO 371/158820; T. Little, “Nine Days That Shook the UAR,” Glasgow Herald, 16 August 1961 (VG1102/53, FO 371/158821). For the text of the decrees, see R. Cairo, 19 July 1961 (BBC, No. 696, 21 July 1961, pp. 4-5); 20 July 1961 {BBC, No. 697,22 July 1961, pp. 8). For a list of the companies, see Badr al-Din al-Siba‘i, al-Marhala al-Intiqaliya fi Suriya: ‘Ahd al-Wahda, 1958-1961 (n.p.: 1975), pp. 328-36. For the text of the speech, see R. Cairo and Damascus, 22 July 1961 {BBC, No. 699, 25 July 1961, pp. 1-13). See also USNA, RG 59, Reinhardt to Secretary of State, Tel. 190,27 July 1961,886B.00/7-2761 ; MER, 1961, p. 578. CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 419,22 July 1961,5551/12659-40; Dispatch 546, 8 August 1961,6143/50405-B40-6.2. E. R. J. Owen, “The Economic Aspects of Revolution in the Middle East,” in P. J. Vatikiotos (ed.), Revolution in the Middle East and Other Case Studies (London: 1972), p. 49. See also CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Dispatch 546, 8 August 1961, 6143/50405-B-40-6.2. See also Baghdadi’s remarks, Ford’s Tel. 452, 8 August 1961, ibid. As for Egypt’s scarce reserves of foreign exchange, it was estimated at LE 13 million in mid-August 1961 (not including gold reserves). See CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 660,9 September 1961,5551/12659-40. As quoted by ‘Abd al-Nasir in the 1963 Tripartite Talks; see APD, 20 March 1963, 4th Meeting, p. 123. These numbers are taken from Frost {The UAR, p. 285) and based on Egyptian sources. Kerr claimed that 74 companies were completely nationalized and only 12 were partially nationalized. See his “Emergence of a Socialist Ideology,” p. 128. Some Egyptian sources attempted to downplay the significance of the measures in the Syrian region; see Hamrush, Qissat Thawrat 23 Yulyu, Vol. 3, p. 76. For a list of the companies, see Siba’i, al-Marhala al-Intiqaliya, pp. 328-36. I would like to thank Prof. Isaac Hasson of the Hebrew University for providing me with this information. MER, 1961, p. 601. Petran, Syria, p. 140. Al-Ahram, 1 August 1961; Frost, The UAR, p. 287. MER, 1961, p. 601; Frost, The UAR, p. 287. Al-Akhbar, 10 September 1961. USNA, RG 59, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 51, 30 August 1961, 886B.00/ 8-3061; CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Tel. 519, 21 September 1961, 6143/50405-B-40-6.2. PRO, Clarke to NEAD, 18 August 1961, EY1015/57, FO 371/157823; USNA, RG 59, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 51,30 August 1961,886B.00/8-3061. The Mufti was reinstated in his office on 28 October 1961, following the disinte253

Notes to pp. 144-7


84 85 86

gration of the UAR. See Clarke to NEAD, 30 October 1%1, EY1015/57, FO 371/157823. The British consul in Damascus came to this conclusion because Kahhala, Sarraj, ‘Awdatallah and Dayri all left on 19 July to attend the celebrations in Cairo of the July 23 Revolution. The following day, when the measures were being announced at a press conference by ‘Ali Sabri, Sarraj and Dayri returned in order to prepare the application of the laws. See PRO, Clarke to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 16E, 27 July 1961, VG1102/42, FO 371/158820. USNA, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 51, 30 August 1961, 886B.00/8-3061. USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary ofState, Tel. 47,29 July 1961.886B.00/7-2961. Daily Telegraph, 17 August 1961 (PRO, VG1102/53A, FO 371/158821).

Chapter 8 Syria’s Secession from the UAR 1 For details on the new government, see the following: PRO, Beeley to FO, Tel. 838, 17 August 1961, VG1016/27; Tel. 839, VG1016/28, FO 371/158786; MER, 1961, pp. 593-5; 601-2; R. Cairo, 16 August 1961 (BBC, 718,17 August 1961, pp. 1-2); 17 August 1961 (BBC, 719,18 August 1961), pp. 1-2); ‘Abd al-Mawla, al-Inhiyar al-Kabir, pp. 264-5. 2 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 78, 26 August 1961, 786B.00/8-2661; PRO, Chancery Cairo to NEAD, 26 August 1961, VG1016/36, FO 371/158787; CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 625, 5 September 1961, 6143/50405-B-40-6.2. 3 MER, 1961, p. 602. 4 On the Egyptian law, see MER, 1960, pp. 493-6. 5 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 100, 18 September 1961, 786B.00/9-1861; PRO, Clarke to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 21, 22 September 1961, FO 371/158787; MER, 1960, p. 602; Petran, Syria, p. 145. 6 PRO, Chancery Cairo to NEAD, 22 September 1961, VG1016/52, FO 371/158787. 7 Petran, Syria, p. 147. 8 See the assessment of the Canadian ambassador following his visit to the Syrian region; CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 394,11 July 1961,6143/50405-B-40-6.1. 9 Al-Ahram, 24 November 1961; MER, 1961, p. 602; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 105-7. 10 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 115,27 September 1961,786B.00/ 9-2761. 11 MER, 1961, pp. 602-3; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 108-14; Frost, The UAR, pp. 292-4; USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 100, 18 September 1961,786B.00/9-1861; PRO, Clarke to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 21, 22 September 1961, FO 371/158787. 12 There are indications that Sarraj seriously considered some action against ‘Abd alNasir but was persuaded by his allies to abandon this idea. See USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 115,27 September 1961,786B.00/9-2761; PRO, 254

Notes to pp. 147-9

13 14

15 16 17 18 19 20 21


23 24 25



Clarice to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 21,22 September 1961, VG1015/50; Arthur to FO, Tel. 914,21 September 1961, VG1016/45, FO 371/158787. Al-Ahram, 24 November 1961; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 115-16. The Times, 23 September 1961 (PRO, FO 371/158787, VG1016/51); Edden to FO, Tel. 818,22 September 1961, VG1016/47, FO 371/158787; USNA, RG 59, Wilson to Secretary of State, Tel. 325,22 September 1961,786B.0Q/9-2261; MER, 1961, p. 604. USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 115,27 September 1961.786B.0Q/ 9-2761. I would like to thank Prof. Isaac Hasson of the Hebrew University for sharing this information with me. He was a student in Damascus during that period. Heikal, Sanawat al-Ghalayan, p. 554. PRO, unsigned minute by the Near East and African Department, 22 August 1961, VG1016/ 29, FO 371/158786. MER, 1961, p. 604. The quotation reflects the attitude of The Times, The Guardian, L ’Orient, al-Hayat, and al-Jarida, 28 September 1961. “Nasser and the Future of Arab Nationalism,” National Intelligence Estimate, 27 June 1961, FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p. 165. CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 394, 11 July 1961, 6143/ 50405-B-40-6.1. In October, the Canadian ambassador to Lebanon reported that the West German attaché had been aware for at least two months that an army revolt was in the making. See Munro to DEA, Tel. 135,5 October 1961,6140/50405-40-11.1. A thorough analysis of the UAR regime, prepared by the Middle East Department of the Israeli Foreign Office, concluded that in spite of the difficulties, the regime might succeed in implementing ‘Abd al-Nasir’s economic policy, which would eventually lead to the economic and political amalgamation of the two regions. See ISA, “The Political and Economic Development of Nasser’s Regime,” 24 September 1961, 3760/18. See a reference to this in the assessment of the 1961 rebellion, FRUS, 1961—1962, Vol. 17, p. 259. J. F. Kennedy Library, White House Central Subject File, CO 304,17 June 1961. Most of the information in the US archives concerning the coup is still classified. See FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p. 259. For more details on the organization of the coup and the rebels, see Mustafa Amin, al-Musawwar, 10 October 1961 (a summary in English can be found in PRO, Chancery Cairo to NEAD, 13 October 1961, EY1015/43, FO 371/157823); al-Hayat, 1 October 1961; al-Ahram, 27 April 1962; New York Times, 20 October 1961; MER, 1961, pp. 614-16; Petran, Syria, p. 150; Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 249-55. On the possible connection between the officers and the Syrian economic élite, see Amin’s article, al-Musawwar, 10 October 1961; PRO, Edden to FO, Tel. 843, 29 September 1961, CG1016/91, FO 371/158789. The Lebanese newspaper, Kull Shay’ (30 September 1961) claimed that the Company provided the rebels with SL 300 million. For a description of the coup, see MER, 1961, pp. 607-8; PRO, Clarke to The Earl 255

Notes to pp. 149-52

28 29 30 31 32 33 34

35 36 37 38

39 40


42 256

of Home, Dispatch 24,1 October 1961, FO 371/158791; Petran, Syria, pp. 149-50; Be’eri, Army Officers, pp. 141-5. For the texts of the broadcasts, see R. Damascus, 28 September 1961 (BBC, No. 755,29 September 1961, pp. 10-11). Heikal, Sanawat al-Ghalayan, p. 554. R. Cairo, 28 September 1961 (BBC, No. 755,29 September 1961, pp. 6-10). Al-Hayat, 30 September, 1 October 1961; MER, 1961, p. 609. R. Damascus, 28 September 1961 (BBC, No. 755,29 September 1961, p. 12). As told by Heikal to British Ambassador, PRO, Beeley to Stevens, 7 October 1961, EY1015/37, FO 371/157822. See also al-Hayat, 1 October 1961. R. Damascus, 28 September 1961 (BBC, No. 755,29 September 1961, p. 12); MER, p. 610. For a Syrian version of what happened during the negotiations with ‘Amir, see SARC statement, R. Damascus, 2 October 1961 (BSC,No. 759,4 October 1961, pp. 7-11). See, e.g., PRO, Clarke to Earl ofHome, Dispatch 28,120ctober 1961.EY1015/49, FO 371/157823. See also al-Hayat, 1 October 1961. R. Cairo, 28 September 1961 (BBC, No. 756,30 September 1961, pp. 1-4). See the texts of the following Communiqués, R. Damascus, 28-29 September 1961 (BBC, No. 756,30 September 1961, pp. 10-12). This version is based primarily on Egyptian sources: See, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speech, MENA, 30 September 1961 (BBC. No. 757,21 October 1961, pp. 1-12); al-Ahram, 30 September 1961; 6 October 1961. For the Syrian version, see MER, 1961, p. 613. Syrian TV showed that Major Huraydi, the Commander of the operation, had in his possession one million Syrian pounds. See ISA, FO to Israeli attachés, 1 October 1961, 3760/18. See the transcripts of his investigation by the Syrian authorities as allegedly quoted by al-Nahar, 29 October 1961. It seems that Huraydi eventually decided to stay in Syria; see Ma'ariv, 1 November 1961. PRO, Edden to FO, Tel. 837,29 September 1961, VG1016/70, FO 371/158788. The Times, NYT, 30 September 1961; R. Stephens, Nasser: A Political Biography (London: 1973), p. 339; Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, Akhbar al-Yawm, 1 October 1961. For the list of Syrian leaders who signed the declaration, see Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, p. 219. Thus, for example, Interior Minister ‘Adnan al-Quwwatli was son of Shukry alQuwwatli; Education and National Guidance Minister ‘Izzat al-Nuss was married to Quwwatli’s daughter and his former private secretary; Finance Minister Lion Zamaria was member of the National Party, connected with Sabri al-‘Asali and related by marriage to Mikhail Ilian, a former minister who was sentenced to death for complicity in a pro-Western coup and escaped to Turkey. See in this connection Mustafa Amin, al-Musawwar, 10 October 1961 (summary in English, PRO, Chancery Cairo to NEAD, 130ctober 1961, EY1015/43.FO 371/157823). Zamaria had objected to the UAR since its formation, see CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 759,20 October 1961,5606/12940-40-1; interview with Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, Akhbar al-Yawm, 14 October 1961. R. Damascus, 29 September 1961 (BBC, No. 757,2 October 1961, pp. 10-12).

Notes to pp. 152-5 43 For the text, see R. Damascus, 30 September 1961 (repeated on 1 October 1961) (BBC, No. 758, 2 October 1961, pp. 5-8). See also USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation between Muhammad Za‘im, Vice-President of the Aleppo Chamber of Commerce, and Arthur Allen, the American Consul-General, 30 September 1961,786B.00/9-3061. 44 PRO, Clarke to FO, Tel. 92,3 October 1961, VG1016/180, FO 371/158791 ; Clarke to NEAD, 4 October 1961, EY1015/32, FO 371/157822; ISA, FO Circular Tel. 406, 3 October 1961, 3760/18; MER, pp. 491-2. For an Arab version, see al-Hayat, 3 October 1961. R. Damascus claimed that among the signatories were all the Syrian ministers who had signed the union document of February 1958, “except those who have died or are away from the country”; see MER, 1961, p. 492. Bitar was later to regret this step and change his mind; see Van Dam, “The Struggle for Power in Syria,” p. 10; N. ‘Allush, al-Thawra wa-al-Jamahir (Beirut: 1963), pp. 371-3. During the 1963 Tripartite talks, ‘Abd al-Nasir expressed his astonishment at learning that Bitar had signed the document; see APD, 14 March 1963,1st Meeting, p. 79. 45 R. Damascus, 23 October 1961 (BBC, No. I l l , 25 October 1961, pp. 1-3). 46 Ibid., pp. 2-3. See also PRO, Clarke to Eastern Department, 26 October 1961, EY1015/66, FO 371/157824. 47 R. Damascus, 2 October 1961 (BBC, No. 759,4 October 1961, pp. 7-11); al-Hayat, 3 October 1961. 48 See, in particular, Musa Sabri, al-Jumhuriyya, 29 September 1961; Baha’ al-Din, al-Akhbar, 29 September 1961. 49 Al-Akhbar, 1 October 1961. 50 Al-Ahram, 30 September 1961; al-Akhbar, 1 October 1961. 51 MENA, 30 September 1961 (BBC, No. 757,2 October 1961, p. 6). 52 For the Jordanian move, see below. For Turkey’s, see PRO, Burrows (Ankara) to FO, Tel. 1360, 29 September 1961, VG1016/84, FO 371/158788. For Iran’s, see Harrison (Tehran) to FO, Tel. 1076,2 October 1961, VG1016/172.FO 371/158791. 53 ISA, FO Circular Tel. 406,3 October 1961,3760/18. 54 USNA, RG 59, Macomber (Amman) to Secretary of State, Tel. 175,29 September 1961,786B.00/9-2961; FRl/S, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p.259, note 2. On the decision to recognize the Syrian regime, see PRO, Henniker-Major (Amman) to FO, Tel. 802,29 September 1961, VG1016/79; Tel. 803, VG1016/80, FO 371/158788. See also Tel. 6 Saving, 6 October 1961, EY1023/41, FO 371/157829. 55 Petran, Syria, p. 150; Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fi Suriya, pp. 126-8; USNA, RG 59, Macomber (Amman) to the Secretary of State, Tel. 174, 28 September 1961, 786B.00/9-2861; Tels. 176,178,29 September 1961,786B .00/9-2961; ISA, Shak (Paris) to FO, Tel. 441, 3 October 1961, 3760/18; CNA, RG 25, Munro to DEA, Tel. 128,29 September 1961,6140/ 50405-40. 56 PRO, Henniker-Major to FO, Tel. 808, 30 September 1961, VG1016/81, FO 371/158788; Tel. 833, 4 October 1961, VG1016/141, FO 371/158790; FRUS, 1961—1963, Vol. 17, pp. 275-6. 257

Notes to pp. 155-7 57 PRO, Arthur to FO, Tel. 956, 1 October 1961, VG1015/101; Burrows to FO, Tel. 1364.2 October 1961, VG1016/129, FO 371/158790. 58 USNA, RG 59, Rusk (New York) to Secretary of State, Tel. 65,30 September 1961, 786B.00/9-3061; FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p. 276, note 1. 59 USNA, RG 59, Rusk’s Circular Tel. 629,2 October 1061,786B.00/10-261; FRt/5, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, pp. 276-9. 60 USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation, 3 October 1961,786B.O0/1O-361 ; Rusk to Cairo, Tel. 526,5 October 1961,786B.00/10-561. 61 PRO, FO to Cairo, Tel. 459 Saving, 4 October 1961, FO 371/158791. 62 USNA, RG 59, Memoranum for McGeorge Bundy by L. D. Battle, 30 September 1961,783.00/9-3061; FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p. 260, note 3, and p. 271. 63 PRO, Crawford (FO) to Henniker-Major, 9 October 1961, EY1015/35, FO 371/157822. 64 USNA, RG 59, Rusk’s Circular Tel. 629,2 October 1961,786B.00/10-261; PRO, FO to Cairo, Tel. 459 Saving, 4 October 1961, FO 371/158791. See also details of a tripartite - US, British, French - meeting in Washington concerning the Syrian situation. USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation, 6 October 1961, 786B.00/10-661. It should be noted that the French were not a factor because their relations with the UAR remained broken since the Suez affair. 65 Al-Ahram, 30 September 1961; PRO, Arthur to FO, Tel. 953, 1 October 1961, VG1016/99, FO 371/158789. 66 R. Cairo, 2 October 1961 (BBC, No. 759, 4 October 1961, pp. 1-7). Another example of the media propaganda was al-Ahram's front-page photographs of Macmillan, de Gaulle, Ben-Gurion, and the Shah, under the headline “Those Who Benefited from the Traitorous Secessionist Movement.” See Arthur to FO, Tel. 959, 1 October 1961, VG1015/104, FO 371/158789. 67 PRO, Arthur to FO, Tel. 955,1 October 1961, VG1015/100.FO 371/158789; Ford’s Tel., 4 October 1961, EY1015/1, FO 371/157821; CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 553.2 October 1961,6140/50405-40-11.1. 68 The reports came from the American and Canadian military attachés. See FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, pp. 279-80; USNA, RG 59, Rusk’s Circular Tel. 645, 4 October 1961, 786B.00/KM61; CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 545, 30 September 1961, 5606/ 12940-40-1; Tel. 557, 3 October 1961, 6140/50405-40-11.1; Tel. 556, 4 October 1961, ibid. See also reports by Israeli sources as given to the Canadians, Tel. 44,5 October 1961, ibid. On 3 October, the Commander of the US Sixth Fleet in the eastern Mediterranean was instructed “to maintain discreet surveillance of Alexandria and report expeditiously any ship movements which might indicate Egypt’s aggressive intentions with regard to Syria”; see FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p. 279, note 1. 69 FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p. 281. 70 American sources reported that as of noon on 4 October, an Egyptian armada at Alexandria was being unloaded. See USNA, RG 59, Rusk’s Circular Tel. 645, 4 October 1961, 786B.00/ 10-461. For the order to cease surveillance, see FRUS, 1961-1963, Vol. 17, p. 279, note 1. 258

Notes to pp. 157-60 71 Memorandum of a Tripartite (US-British-French) Conversation, 6 October 1961, 786B.00/10-661. 72 For the text, see R. Cairo, 5 October 1961 (BBC, No. 762,7 October 1961, pp. 1-5). 73 The Canadian ambassador wrote in this connection: “It is not easy for a political leader to admit to his people or to himself the collapse of a dream and this is what he did. I think he has managed to save all that could hope to be saved out of the débâcle.” See CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 566, 6 October 1961, 5606/12940-40-1. 74 USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 661, 7 October 1961, 786B.00/1O-761. 75 For the British, see PRO, FO to Cairo, Tel. 1555,10 October 1961, EY1023/43, FO 371/ 157829. For other countries, see FO 371/157830; MER, 1961, p. 509. 76 The number of Egyptians in Syria varied between 8,000 and 20,000. See PRO, Clarke to NEAD, 5 October 1961, EY1015/29; 9 October 1961, EY1015/29 (A), FO 371/157822; MER, 1961, p. 491. 77 These were Dayri, ‘Awdatallah, ‘Izz al-Din, Hunaydi, Sufy, Tarabulsi and Muzahim. The first five were former Syrian officers; see CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 759,20 October 1961,5606/12940-40-1. 78 We know very little about ‘Abd al-Nasir’s wife and family; see Vatikiotis, Nasser and His Generation, p. 37; Stephens, Nasser, pp. 61-2. 79 CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Dispatches 745,751,17 October 1961,6143/50405-B40-6.2. As early as September 1959, Sadat spoke of Syria as “a drag on us, and a weight on our necks.” See Smith to DEA, Tel. 790, 12 September 1959, 7807/12653-1-40-1.2. 80 USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 756,23 October 1961,033.1100H U /10-2361. Chapter 9 The End of a Dream 1 PRO, Chancery Damascus to NEAD, 17 October 1961, EY1015/58, FO 371/157823; MER, 1961, p. 491. 2 For the text, see R. Damascus, 6 October 1961 (BBC, No. 762,7 October 1961, pp. 7-8). 3 On 21 December 1961, the Syrian military prosecutor announced that the indict­ ment against Sarraj contained 240 (!) charges. Shortly thereafter, however, he escaped from jail and reached Cairo. In 1967, he became Director of the Institute of National Insurance in Egypt. See Caroz, The Arab Secret Service, p. 108. For more information on his escape from prison, see “Qissat Hurub al-Sarraj,” alDustur, 29 February 1988. 4 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Department of State, Dispatch 105, 7 November 1961, 786B.0Q/11-761; MER, 1961, pp. 492-3. 5 See interview with Lion Zamaria and ‘Awad Barakat, two Syrian ministers in Kuzbari’s cabinet who belonged to the economic élite. Zamaria claimed that the measures should be immediately amended before the leftist forces reorganized; quoted in Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, Akhbar al-Yawm, 14 October 1961. 259

Notes to pp. 160-4 6 7 8 9

10 11 12 13 14

15 16


18 19 20



23 260

MER, 1961, pp. 493-4. Ibid., p. 494. Ibid., 1961, pp. 495,500. For the text, see PRO, Chancery Damascus to NEAD, 11 November 1961, EY1015/77, FO 371/157824; ISA, 13 November 1961, 3760/18; MER, 1961, pp. 497-8. PRO, Clarke to Eastern Department, 17 November 1961, EY1015/81, FO 371/157825; MER, 1961, pp. 498-9. MER, 1961, p. 499. Ibid., p. 501. USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 328, 4 December 1961, 783.00/12-461. For details on the elections, see USNA, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 328, 4 December 1961,783.00/12-461; PRO, Clarke to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 59,8 December 1961, EY1015/97, FO 371/157825; ISA, Survey No. 55/61, 11 December 1961; No. 56/61, 18 December 1961, 3760/18. For the exact affiliation of each member of parliament, see two different lists: al-Jarida, al-Nahar, 5 December 1961 (ISA, 11 December 1961, 3760/18); MER, 1961, pp. 502-3. MER, 1961, pp. 506-7. For the text of Dawalibi’s statement, see R. Damascus, 8 January 1962 (BBC, No. 841, 11 January 1962, pp. 1-9). See also his press conference, R. Damascus, 14 January 1962 (BBC, No. 845, 16 January 1962, pp. 6-7). For assurances to the workers, see Qudsi’s meeting with trade union leaders, ibid., pp. 7-8). For the Banking Organization Bill, see R. Damascus, 29 January 1962 (BBC, No. 859, 1 February 1962, pp. 5-8). For the Industrial Companies’ Bill, see R. Damascus, 29 January 1962 (BBC, pp. 8-10). For further details, see Petran, Syria, p. 154; Keilany, “Socialism and Economic Change,” p. 67. For the text of the joint communiqué, see R. Baghdad and Damascus, 24 January 1962 (BBC, No. 854, 26 January 1962, pp. 1-2). Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, “al-Madi... wa-al-Mustaqbal,” Akhbar al-Yawm, 7 October 1961. R. Cairo, 16 October 1961 (BBC, No. 771,18 October 1961, pp. 1-10); MER, 1961, pp. 624-5. Ironically, this passage resembled Nuri al-Sa‘id’s desperate call to Arab nationalists in December 1956. Cf. his broadcast on 16 December 1956, following the Suez débâcle; see Podeh, Quest for Hegemony, pp. 219-20. R. Cairo, 21 October 1961 (BBC, No. 776, 24 October 1961, pp. 2-5); al-Ahram, 22 October \96Y,MER, 1961, p.626; USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 816,6 November 1961,786B.00/11-661; PRO, Beeley to The Earl of Home, Dispatch 94, 31 October 1961, FO 371/157893; CNA, RG 25, Irwin to DEA, Dispatch 947, 12 December 1961,5551/12659-40. See, e.g., Daya’ al-Din Baybares, al-Asrar al-Shakhsiyya li-Gamal ‘Abd al-Nasir (Cairo: 1976), p. 125. The book is in fact the memoirs of Mahmud al-Jayar, head of the president’s office in the 1960s, as related to the journalist Baybares. Vatikiotis, Nasser and His Generation, p. 312. The whole story is related by Sadat,

Notes to pp. 164-6


25 26 27




31 32 33


who might have had an interest in victimizing ‘Amir in the Syrian affair. See In Search of Identity, pp. 156-60; Musa Sabri, Sadat: al-Haqiqa wa-al-Ustura (Cairo: 1985), pp. 245-7; Mahmud Fawzi, Harb al-Thalath Sanawat (Beirut: 1984), Vol. l.p.21. For details on the new institution, see MER, 1961, pp. 627-31; al-Ahram, 6-7 November 1961; PRO, Chancery Cairo to NEAD, 9 November 1961, VG1016/224, FO 371/157893; USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 816,6 November 1961,786B.0Q/11-661. For the text of the speech, see R. Cairo, 25 November 1961 (BBC, No. 806, 28 November 1961, pp. 1-25). Al-Ahram, 29 December 1% 1. For the English version, see BBC, No. 833,2 January 1962, pp. 1-4; Kerr, Arab Cold War, pp. 28-9. The Imam published a poem on 14 December 1961, in which he claimed that the UAR socialist measures were contrary to Islam (he did not mention the UAR specif­ ically). For the text of the poem, see R. Sana'a, 27 December 1961 (BBC, No. 837, 6 January 1962, pp. 1-3). The Egyptian reaction came in ‘Abd al-Nasir attack on the Imam during his Port Sa‘id speech on 23 December and the decision to dissolve the UAS. See CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 769, 27 December 1961, 6144/50405-B-1-40-1; Shenstone to DEA, Dispatch 15, 2 January 1962, 6140/50405-40-12.1. The Syrian version was given during the Arab League’s deliberations at Shtura (see below) in August 1962. See R. Damascus, 27 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1035, 31 August 1962, p. 7). Heikal, al-Ahram, 20, 27 April 1962. Akram al-Dayri, head of the Egyptian dele­ gation to the Shtura meeting, claimed that the Syrian military delegation had explained in January 1962 that “the entire Syrian army did not desire secession, and never thought that matters would go so far. The delegation even offered to stop the elections.” See R. Cairo, 25 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1032, 28 August 1962, p. 3). See also CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Dispatch 453, 7 May 1962, 6140/50405-40-13.1. For examples, see R. Cairo, 14 January 1962 (BBC, No. 845,16 January 1962, p. 10); 15 January 1962 (BBC, No. 846,17 January 1962, p. 7); 19 January 1962 (BBC, No. 850,22 January 1962, p. 4). For criticism of the Iraqi-Syrian contacts, see e.g.. Voice of the Arab Nation, 26 January 1962 (BBC, No. 857, 30 January 1962, pp. 12-13). R. Cairo, 22 February 1962 (BBC. No. 880,26 February 1962, pp. 1-8). See also, CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 117,24 February 1962,6140/50405^10-12.1. USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. A-302, 2 March 1962, 783.00/3-262. For the Israeli estimate, see R. Israel in English, 17 March 1962 (BBC, No. 898,19 March 1962, pp. 8-9). For Syrian comments, see R. Damascus, 17 March 1962 (BBC, No. 899, 20 March 1962, pp. 2-5). For an account of the first phase of the coup, see PRO, Bromley to Earl of Home, Dispatch 37, 31 March 1962, Eyl015/41, FO 371/164380. 261

Notes to pp. 166-7 35 On the Homs decisions, see PRO, Bromley to The Earl of Home, Dispatch 41,13 April 1962, EY1015/58; Militay Attaché in Beirut to the War Office, 11 April 1962, EY1015/60, FO 371/164380; Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 1434,4 April 1962, 783.00/4-462; Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 651,5 April 1962,783.00/4-562; Tel. 653,6 April 1962,783.00/4-662; Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba ‘th, pp. 33-4. 36 The British reported that Zahr al-Din asked the Jordanians on 1 April to make a show of force by sending troops to the border or pretending to do so. Husayn asserted that Jordan would not stand by and permit ‘Abd al-Nasir to re-establish himself in Syria by conspiracy and that Jordan might have to act to prevent this. See as reported to the Canadian ambassador, CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 209, 7 April 1962,6140/50405-40-12.2. Jordan’s prime minister was even more explicit when he told the British that “if the moment of truth came, then Jordan must take the decision to forestall the reversion to a situation which was a menace to Jordan, Syria and others.” The British responded that Jordan’s intervention would force Britain to re-examine its relations with Jordan. See CNA, RG 25, London to DEA, Tel. 1099,3 April 1962, ibid. 37 On the course of events in Aleppo, see the following: PRO, Bromley to Earl of Home, Dispatch 41, 13 April 1962, EY1015/58; Military Attaché in Beirut to the War Office, 11 April 1962, EY1015/60, FO 371/164380; USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 635, 2 April 1962, 783.00/4-262; Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 142, 7 April 1962, 783.00/ 4-762; Dispatch 145, 20 April 1962, 783.00/4-2062. It should be noted that the incidents also had a religious undertone - a division between Christian Armenians and Muslim Arabs. An indication of this was that by 6 April, Aleppo was completely divided in two by barbed wire along the street separating Muslim and Christian quarters. See PRO, Bromley’s Dispatch 41, FO 371/164380; USNA, Allen’s Tel. 370,6 April 1962,783.00/4-662; Y. BarSiman-Tov, Linkage Politics in the Middle East: Syria Between Domestic and External Conflict, 1961-1970 (Boulder: 1983), pp. 88-92; Haddad, Revolutions and Military Rule, Vol. 2, pp. 260-5. 38 See a report by the American consul in Aleppo, USNA, RG 59, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 145, 20 April 1962, 783.00/4-2062; Bar-Siman-Tov, Linkage Politics, pp. 88-9. 39 PRO, Military Attaché in Beirut to the War Office, 11 April 1962, EY1015/60, FO 371/164380. 40 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 651,5 April 1962,783.00/4-562; Tel. 653,6 April 1962,783.00/4-662. 41 The US ambassador was so appalled by these accusations that he sent a personal letter to Phillips Talbot, the Assistant Secretary of State, in which he described the Syrian request to move the US consul-general from Aleppo, if “only to Damascus.” See USNA, Knight to Talbot, 27 April 1962,783.00/4-2762. See also his Air-gram A-112,26 April 1962,783.00/4-2662. A Syrian Supreme State security court found that “the American consulate general took part in matter [the rebellion] and issued quantities of pictures of Nasir.” See Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 442, 18 262

Notes to pp. 167-8

42 43 44 45 46



49 50



Januaiy 1963,783.00/1-1863. Ultimately, the US did not move the consul since this could have been construed as an admission of guilt. Bar-Siman-Tov, Linkage Politics, p. 91. CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 184,2 April 1962,6140/50405-40-12.2. This was the assessment of the American consul in Aleppo, see USNA, RG 59, Allen to Department of State, Dispatch 145,20 April 1962,783.00/4-2062. Van Dam, “Struggle for Power in Syria,” p. 10; based on Munif Razzaz, al-Tajriba al-Murra (Beirut: 1967), pp. 85-6. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s relatively passive role during the Aleppo rebellion might further substantiate this line of thinking. It is interesting to note that the US did not object in principle to Syria’s return to the UAR. Rusk stated that the “direction Syria goes in next year or two will be determined principally by forces local to Near East. Our means for exerting decisive influence are inadequate and we believe best to avoid actions putting us in middle without achieving useful results.” See USNA, RG 59, 3 April 1962, 783.00/4-362. It is impossible to know to what extent, if at all, the positions of other Arab states were known to ‘Abd al-Nasir and influenced his thinking. King Husayn, for example, told the US that Jordan would send forces to Syria if ‘Abd al-Nasir sent “one soldier into Syria” to support a pro-UAR takeover, or if a small group of pro-Nasir “free officers” appeared to be forcing their will on the Syrian people. USNA, Macomber to Secretary of State, Tel. 466,3 April 1962, 783.00/4-362. This was said to Harold Beeley, the able British ambassador in Cairo. Since the report on this meeting was not found in the British archive, I rely on the American report. See USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. A-302,2 March 1962, 783.00/3-262. ‘Abd al-Nasir’s talk with Newsweek reporter Henry Kem. See USNA, RG 59, Memorandum of Conversation, 6 March 1962, 674.86B/3-662. An unconfirmed report claimed that ‘Abd al-Nasir considered taking advantage of this confused state of affairs in Syria and visiting Damascus. Such a step, he might have reasoned, would lead the demoralized and disorganized Syrian army to prefer a union with Egypt. This information was delivered by Khalid al-‘Azm; see USNA, RG 59, Jones to Secretary of State, Tel. 83, 30 July 1962,783.00/7-3062. This idea, if it existed at all, was never tested. USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 1431,4 April 1962,783.00/4-462. See his talks with the Canadians, CNA, RG 25, Ford to DEA, Tel. 245, 27 April 1962, 6140/50405-40-12.2. This line of thinking was further strengthened by Heikal, who claimed that if there were to be a free plebiscite in Egypt on re-union with Syria the majority might well oppose it. See Ford to DEA, Tel. 233,21 April 1962, ibid. USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 775,22 May 1962,783.00/5-2262; Tel. 810,6 June 1962,783.00/6-662. On the committee, see CNA, RG 25, Munro to DEA, Dispatch 317,30 May 1962,6140/50405-40-13.1. Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba ‘th, pp. 37-8. For details of the program, see Abu Jaber, The Ba'th Party, p. 65. 263

Notes to pp. 168-70 53 Al-Husri, “Mashru* al-Wahda al-Ittihadiyya,” in al-Iqlimiyya: Judhurha waBudhurha (Beirut: 1985), pp. 43-7. For a particularly critical view of Ba‘th position toward unity, see his article, “Mawaqif Hizb al-Ba‘th min Masa’lat al-Wahda au alIttihad,” ibid., pp. 62-6. 54 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 815,8 June 1962,783.00/6-862; PRO, Bromley to The Earl of Home, Tel. 174, EY1015/91, FO 371/164382. For the text, see R. Damascus, 6 June 1962 (BBC, No. 965,8 June 1962, pp. 3-7). 55 USNA, RG 59, Knight to Secretary of State, Tel. 819,10 June 1962,783.00/6-1062. 56 See, in particular, al-Ahram, 11 June 1962. 57 USNA, RG 59, Jones to Secretary of State, Tel. 20,9 July 1962,683.86B/7-962. 58 USNA, RG 59, Jones to Secretary of State, Tel. 831,14 June 1962,783.00/6-1462. 59 For the text, see R. Damascus, 26 June 1962 (BBC,No. 979,26June 1962, pp. 1-5). 60 USNA, Jones to Secretary of State, Tel. 77,27 July 1962,783.00/7-2762. 61 Quoted in ibid. 62 See the text of the press statement made by Interior Minister ‘Aziz ‘Abd al-Karim, R. Damascus, 29 July 1962 (BBC, No. 1010,1 August 1962, pp. 5-10). 63 The exact wording was as follows: “Today, brother citizens, while celebrating the 10th anniversary of the revolution, we look towards our brothers in the northern region - in Syria - to say to them: Brothers, we are with you all the way. Brothers, we have never renounced you.” See R. Cairo, 22 July 1962 (BBC, No. 1003,24 July 1962, p. 12). The “aggressive" parts of ‘Abd al-Nasir’s speeches were included in the text of the Syrian complaint submitted to the League, see R. Damascus, 22 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1029,24 August 1962, pp. 5-6). 64 Petran, Syria, pp. 158-60; Bar-Siman-Tov, Linkage Politics, p. 91. 65 This was Syria’s explanation, see USNA, RG 59, Jones to Secretary of State, Tel. 158, 29 August 1962,683.86B/8-2962. 66 H. A. Hassouna, The League of Arab States and the Regional Disputes (New York: 1975), p. 172. 67 Syria considered the composition of the Egyptian delegation as constituting an aggression; the Syrian government, therefore, issued warrants for the arrest of the Syrians in the Egyptian delegation during the meeting. For details on the meeting, see T. Y. Hasou, The Struggle for the Arab World, pp. 119-24; Hassouna, League of Arab States, pp. 167-73. 68 R. Damascus, 22 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1029,24 August 1962, pp. 2-6). For the texts in Arabic, see Watha’iq al-Shakwa al-Suriya (n.p.: 1962). See also Hasou, Struggle for the Arab World, pp. 120-1. 69 For the text of Kallas’ statement, see Watha ’iq al-Shakwa pp. 21-4; 34-73. 70 For the text of Nafuri’s speech, see ibid., pp. 73-95. For a summary in English, see R. Damascus, 29 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1035,31 August 1962, pp. 13-17). 71 For the text of some documents, see ibid., pp. 153ff. For a summary in English, see R. Damascus, 24 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1031,27 August 1962, pp. 1-3); USNA, RG 59, Meyer (Beirut) to Secretary of State, Tel. 238, 28 August 1962, 786.00/8-2862; Hasou, Struggle for the Arab World, pp. 120-1. 264

Notes to pp. 170-4 72 See, e.g., R. Cairo, 25 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1032,28 August 1962, pp. 1-4); 28 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1035,31 August 1962, pp. 17-21). 73 USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 353, 29 August 1962, 786.00/8-2962; CNA, RG 25, Riddell to DEA, Tel. 3156, 31 August 1962, 6140/50405-40-13.1. Apparently, the attaché did not reveal new information, see R. Damascus, 28 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1034,30 August 1962, pp. 7-10). 74 For the text of the statement, see R. Cairo, 28 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1034, 30 August 1962, pp. 2-5). See also USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Secretary of State, Tel. 241,29 August 1962,786.00/8-2962. 75 See in this connection Heikal’s article in al-Ahram, 17 August 1962; CNA, RG 25, Riddell to DEA, Tel. 461,30 August 1962,6140/50405-40-13.1 ; Beaulieu to DEA, Dispatch 482,5 September 1962, ibid. 76 Quoted by R. Cairo, 30 August 1962 (BBC, No. 1035,31 August 1962, p. 21). 77 On Arab mediation and its results, see: USNA, RG 59, Meyer to Secretary of State, Tel. 252, 31 August 1962, 786.00/3162; Badeau to Secretary of State, Tels. 362, 364,31 August 1962,786.00/3162; Tel. 367,2 September 1962,786.00/9-262; Tel. 411, 10 September 1962, 786.00/9-1062; Tel. 423, 12 September 1962, 786.00/9-1262; Tel. 435, 14 September 1962, 786.00/9-1462; Tel. 461, 19 September 1962,786.00/9-1962. 78 On the coup, see Be’eri, Army Officers, pp. 193-7. 79 Kerr, Arab Cold Wat, p. 41. 80 Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba ‘th, p. 44. 81 On the Syrian coup, see ibid., pp. 43-8; Kerr, Arab Cold War, pp. 44-5; PRO, Bromley to the Earl of Home, Dispatch 25, 18 March 1963, EY1015/43; Military Attache in Damascus to the War Office, 12 March 1963, FO 371/170597. 82 Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba'th, p. 56. A similar explanation was offered by Kerr: “they [the Ba'th] wanted the prestige of his name, but without his interfer­ ence, to bolster their authority” (Arab Cold War, p. 72; see also p. 74). 83 For the text of the protocols, see APD, 1963. For a splendid analysis of them, see Kerr, Arab Cold War, pp. 48-76. 84 Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba ‘th, p. 59. 85 Kerr, Arab Cold War, p. 73. 86 Ibid., pp.77-8. 87 Ibid., p. 88. On the coup, see also Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba'th, pp. 66-73. 88 Quoted from Kerr, Arab Cold War, p. 90. For a slightly different translation, see R. Cairo, 22 July 1963 (BBC, No. 1308,24 July 1963, pp. 14-15). 89 A. Sela, The Decline of the Arab-Israeli Conflict: Middle East Politics and the Quest for Regional Order (New York: 1998), p. 84. Conclusions 1 “Hawla Wahdat Suriya wa-Misr,” in Hawla al-Qawmiyya al- ‘Arabiyya, pp. 33-43. Bitar voiced the same argument; he told the American ambassador that Cairo was closer to Damascus than to Aswan. See USNA, RG 59, Yost to Secretary of State, Tel. 2029,24 January 1958,674.83/1-2458. 265

Notes to pp. 174—81 2 On the silence of Egyptian intellectuals, see Tawfiq al-Hakim’s self-criticism, The Return of Consciousness, trans. by B. Winder (London: 198S), which was originally written in 1972 but published only in 1974. 3 Mufti, Sovereign Creations, p. 96. 4 M. Kramer, “Arab Nationalism: Mistaken Identity,” in Arab Awakening and Islamic Revival: The Politics of Ideas in the Middle East (New Brunswick, NJ: 19%), pp. 21- 2. 5 See, in this regard, B. Tuchman, The March of Folly (London: 1984), p. 4. 6 H. Butterfield, The Whig Interpretation of History (London: 1950), p. 64. 7 A. Hourani, “Conflict of the Two Unions,” The Times, 22 May 1958. 8 Mufti, Sovereign Creations, p. 260. 9 Hourani, “Conflict of the Two Unions,” The Times, 22 May 1958. 10 Khoury, Syria and the French Mandate, p. 19. 11 See, in particular, Heikal, Ma Alladhi Jara fl Suriya\ Riad, Mudhakkirat, Vol. 2, pp. 225-6. See also Heikal’s interview with al-Dustur, 15 February 1988; and the testi­ mony of Husayn Shafi*, a Free Officer and a leading minister, in ibid. 12 See, e.g., Munif al-Razzaz, Ma'alim al-Hayat al-‘Arabiyya al-Jadida (Beirut: 1960). In 1960, a fourth edition of this book had already been published. An important Ba’th activist and ideologue, Razzaz became secretary-general of the Ba‘th from April 1%5 to February 1966. 13 This argument is based on ‘Abd al-Nasir’s assertion to the US. See the report from Washington to Israel, ISA, Herzog to FO, 27 February 1958, 3344/50. See also A. Yaniv, Politics and Strategy in Israel (Tel Aviv: 1994), pp. 155-8 (Hebrew). 14 During the 1963 Unity Talks, ‘Abd al-Nasir admitted: “a complete union was a premature venture”; see APD, 14 March 1963, p. 80. 15 Ibid., 14 March 1%3, p. 80; 19 March 1%3, p. 101. 16 Interestingly enough, during the 1%3 Unity Talks, ‘Abd al-Nasir remarked that “it was a mistake to have totally excluded the Syrian army from politics”; see Ibid., 1 April 1%3, p. 168. 17 Dekmejian, Egypt Under Nasir, pp. 58-9. 18 USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 188, 18 December 1958, 786B.00/ 12-1858. The argument that the fall was precipitated by the fact that not enough efforts were dedicated to the deepening of Arab thought was also proposed by ‘Abd al-Da’am, “Tajribat al-Wahda,” p. 128. 19 ‘Ukasha, Mudhakkirati, Vol. 1, pp. 498-608. 20 Taha Husayn, al-Jumhuriyya, 7 October 1%1 (quoted in Rejwan, Nasserist Ideology, p. 55). 21 Al-Ahram, 6 October 1% 1; Ma Alladhi Jarafi Suriya, p. 137. The fact that al-Hilal, the most important Egyptian journal advocating pan-Arabism, published only a few and uninspiring articles on this subject during 1958-61 tends to confirm Heikal’s assertion. When the union was proclaimed, the editorial enthusiastically endorsed the project, claiming that for 66 years the journal had been preaching the unifica­ tion of the Arab states; see al-Hilal, Vol. 66 (March 1958). 266

Notes to pp. 181-91 22 ‘Azzam’s conversation with Lewis Jones, US Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs, USNA, RG 59,21 December 1959,786B.00/12-2159. 23 See, e.g., Jasim ‘Alwan’s interview with al-Dustur, 22 February 1988. 24 See, e.g., Sati‘ al-Husri, Ma Hiya al-Qawmiyya (Beirut: 1985), pp. 73-97; Difa‘ 'an al-'Uruba (Beirut: 1985), pp. 99-122. Husri thought that the US federal arrange­ ment constituted the best example of association. For Darwaza’s discussion, see al-Wahda al-‘Arabiyya, pp. 645-89. He also presented a draft constitution for the “United Arab States” (al-Duwal al- ‘Arabiyya al-Muttahida), see pp. 621-30. 25 For the text, see Haim, Arab Nationalism, pp. 233-41. 26 Devlin, Ba'th Party, p. 88. See also in this connection, P. Seale, “The Break-up of the United Arab Republic,” The World Today, Vol. 17 (November 1961), p. 478. 27 See, e.g., the Ba'th federation program published in May 1962, Husri, al-Iqlimiyya, pp. 43-7. See also, Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, “al-Madi. . . wa-al-Mustaqbal,” Akhbar al-Yawm, 7 October 1961; idem, Azmat Ittifakiyat al-Wahda al-Thulathiya (Cairo: n.d.), pp. 25-6; Riyad Taha, al-Kifah, 16 October 1961 ; al-Hayat, 29 October 1961 ; Shibli al-Aysami, al-Wahda al-‘Arabiyya min khilalal-Tajriba (Beirut: 1971), pp. 30-7; Dirasatfi al-Qawmiyya al- ‘Arabiyya wa-al-Wahda (Beirut: 1984); ‘Abd alRahman al-Bazzaz, On Arab Nationalism (London: 1965); Salah al-Din al-Bitar, al-Thawra wa-al-Thawra al-‘Arabiyya (Beirut: 1967). 28 Gershoni and Jankowski, Redefining the Egyptian Nation, pp. 140-1. 29 Bitar told Robert Stephens, ‘Abd al-Nasir’s biographer, in October 1961, that the breach between the Ba'th and ‘Abd al-Nasir “was caused by a certain Egyptian hegemonic view of the union”; see Stephens, Nasser, p. 343. 30 “Kayfa Iktashafat Misr ‘Urubataha?” al-Majalla, 1-7 July 1983, pp. 38-42. 31 For the text, see MENA, 6 November 1959 (BBC, No. 177,9 November 1959). 32 On the Iraqi-Kuwaiti crisis and the UAR involvement, see MER, 1% 1, pp. 117-39. 33 USNA, RG 59, Haring to Department of State, Dispatch 37, 9 August 1959, 786B.00/8-959. 34 Khalid al-Hakim, the Chairman of the Syrian GFTU, claimed that the Syrian merchants controlled 30-40 per cent of the Egyptian trade, and that few Egyptian merchants opened business in Syria. See his interview with al-Dustur, 22 February 1988. Although these figures seem exaggerated, they still indicate that the Syrian mercantile élite benefited from the larger Egyptian market. For a similar argument, see ‘Abd al-Hadi al-Baqqar’s interview in ibid. See also Ayubi, Over-Stating the Arab State, p. 150, where he informs us that a whole marketplace in Alexandria was called after the Syrian merchants. 35 Etzioni, Political Unification, p. 130. 36 Tibawi, A Modem History of Syria, p. 72. 37 For this comparison I relied on ibid., pp. 63-93; Ma‘oz, Ottoman Reform in Syria, pp. 12-20. 38 See, e.g., MER, 1961, pp. 622-3. 39 See the figures in Nasr, al-Tasawwur al-Qawmi al- ‘Arabi, p. 280. 40 F. Ajami, “The End of Pan-Arabism,” Foreign Affairs, Vol. 57 (1978/1979), p. 357. 267

Notes to pp. 191-5 41 C. A. F. Hourani, “In Search of a Valid Myth,” Middle East Forum, Vol. 47 ( 1971 ), p. 40. 42 See in this connection R. Pfaff, “The Function of Arab Nationalism," Comparative Politics, Vol. 2 (1969), pp. 147-67. 43 USNA, RG 59, Badeau to Secretary of State, Tel. 695, 13 October 1961, 786B.00/10-1361. 44 Razzaz, al-Tajriba al-Murra, p. 46. 45 Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, “Kayfa Dctashafat Misr ‘Urubataha,” al-Majallah, No. 151, 1-7 January 1983; Sadat, In Search of Identity, p. 163; Vatikiotis, Nasser and His Generation, p. 311. Such a move was expected by the US: “Nasser apparently was caught off balance by the Syrian affair, which must have hurt him domestically and in the pan-Arab field. Consequently, we can probably expect some sort of external move by Nasser to restore his prestige.” See J. F. Kennedy Library, President Office Files, Box 88, Fifth Regional Operations Conference, 16 October 1961. 46 Kerr, Arab Cold War, pp. 28-9. 47 Rejwan, Nasserist Ideology, p. 256. For the text of the document, see pp. 193-266. 48 Abu Jaber, Arab Ba'th Socialist Party, pp. 62-5; Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba'th, pp. 36-8; Van Dam, “The Struggle for Power in Syria,” pp. 11-12; Safadi, Hizb al-Ba‘th, pp. 251-97. 49 Quoted in Rabinovich, Syria Under the Ba ‘th, p. 23. 50 Dann wrote in this connection: “It does not need much imagination to argue that with the UAR intact, there would not have been either the Six-Day War or the PLO as it evolved after the War”; see King Hussein, p. 119. See also Ma‘oz, Syria and Israel, ch. 5; Bar-Siman-Tov, Linkage Politics, pp. 101-10; Rabinovich, Syria under the Ba'th, p. 96. 51 For details, see O. Winckler, Demographic Developments and Population Policies in Ba‘thist Syria (Brighton: 1999). 52 See, in particular, M. Hudson, Arab Politics: The Search for Legitimacy (New Haven, CT: 1977). 53 See the following sources: Ayubi, Over-Stating the Arab State; S. Zubaida, “The Nation State in the Middle East,” in Islam, The People and the State (London: 1989), pp. 121-87; G. Luciani (ed.), The Arab State (Berkeley: 1990); G. Ben-Dor, “Ethnopolitics and the Middle Eastern State,” in M. Esman and I. Rabinovich (eds), Ethnicity, Pluralism, and the State in the Middle East (Ithaca, NY : 1988), pp. 71-94; idem, “The Post-Colonial State and the Study of Middle East Politics,” in State and Conflict in the Middle East (New York: 1983), pp. 1-35; L. Anderson, “The State in the Middle East and North Africa,” Comparative Politics, Vol. 20 (1987), pp. 1-18; Y. Choueiri, Arab History and the Nation State (London: 1989). In contrast, Bahgat Korany concluded: “the failure of the short-lived UAR has boosted the existing territorial Arab state.” See “International Boundaries and Arab StateFormation,” in G. H. Blake and R. N. Schefield (eds). Boundaries and State Territory in the Middle East and North Africa (Wisbech: 1987), p. 20. 54 This is in contrast to Ajami’s thesis, see “The End of Pan-Arabism," p. 367. On the existence of local attachments in the pre-1945 period, see E. Podeh, “The 268

Notes to pp. 195-6


56 57






Emergence of the Arab State System Reconsidered,” Diplomacy and Statecraft, Vol. 9 (November 1998), pp. 50-82. This argument does not negate of-course the existence of territorial disputes along the borders. J. H. Lebovic, “The Middle East: The Region as a System,” International Interactions, Vol. 12 (1986), p. 277; F. G. Gause, III, “Sovereignty, Statecraft and Stability in the Middle East,” Journal of International Affairs, Vol. 45 (1992), pp. 441-67; Ajami, “The End of Pan-Arabism,” p. 355. In 1972 Egypt adopted new name and flag as it entered into a federation with Libya and Syria called the Federation of Arab Republics (FAR). The immediate reason for Asad’s step was the growing domestic discontent as a result of Muslim opposition to the regime. He thought that by demonstrating a more radical position in the Arab-Israeli relations he would strengthen his domestic legit­ imacy. Thus, after Sadat signed the peace agreement with Israel in March 1979, Asad accentuated his anti-Egyptian stance by withdrawing from the FAR and abol­ ishing its flag. Reportedly, Asad and the Ba‘th leadership thought of returning to the original Syrian flag or adopting the Ba‘th Party’s flag, but eventually they chose the UAR flag in the hope that such a move would prove Syria’s pan-Arab commit­ ment. For more information, see Tel Aviv University, the Moshe Dayan Documentation Center, Syrian Files, 1980, No. 236-38. Tishrin, 22 February 1998. See also a leading article by Talib Abu ‘Abed, “alWahda Hadaf Thabit Istratigi wa-hiya al-Radd al-Hasim ‘ala al-Tahaddiyat wa-al-Akhtar.” The author blames “Western imperialism” for the UAR collapse. Walid Mahmud ‘Abd al-Nasir, “Fi Dhikrat al-Wahda . . . wa-al-Haja Ilayha,” AlAhram, 22 February 1998. Leading Egyptian weeklies, such as Uktober, Ruz al-Yusuf, and al-Musawwar, ignored the issue altogether. In contrast, ‘Abd alNasir’s 80 birthday was widely celebrated in Ruz al-Yusuf, No. 3631, 12 January 1998, pp. 37-63. The Center for Political and Strategic Studies at al-Ahram organized, for example, a conference in Cairo on 22-23 February 1998. For a report on it, see, al-Siyasa alDuwaliyya, No. 132 (April 1998), pp. 305-9. These terms carry a strong emotional undertone; “karitha” and “nakba” are used to describe the 1948 War, and “naksa” would be used to describe the 1967 War. For a use of these terms to describe the fall of the UAR, see Husri, al-Iqlimiyya, pp. 29, 61, 103, 110. A more “moderate” attitude would describe the break-up as a “setback” (irtikas); see Shibli al-‘Aysami, al-Wahda al-'Arabiyya min khilal alTajriba (Beirut: 1971). This book included a fierce criticism of the Ba‘th failures during the union. On the Palestinians’ hopes of the UAR and the effects of its disintegration on their activity, see: Abu Iyad, Without a Homeland (Jerusalem: 1983) (Hebrew), pp. 68-9; Naji ‘Allush, al-Masira ila’ Filastin (Beirut: 1964), p. 189; Issam Shakhnini, “Tamthil al-Sha‘b al-Filastini wa-Munazamat al-Tahrir al-Filastiniyya,” Shu'un Filastiniyya, No. 15 (1972), p. 27; Y. Harkabi, The Palestinians from Quiescence to Awakening (Jerusalem: 1979) (Hebrew), pp. 56-7. On the Palestinians who joined al-Qawmiyyun al- ‘Arab, see W. Kazziha, Revolutionary Transformation in 269

Notes to p. 196 the Arab World: Habash and his Comradesfrom Nationalism to Marxism (London: 1975). 63 Abdul Aziz Said, “Clashing Horizons: Arabs and Revolution,” in M. Curtis (ed.). People and Politics in the Middle East (New Brunswick, NJ: 1971), p. 279. 64 Interestingly enough, during the UAR years Qabbani served as a second secretary at the UAR embassy in China. He left the Syrian foreign ministry in 1966. He died in April 1998.


Archives The National Archives (USNA), Washington Record Group 59 (State Department Files): 120.158B; 123 - Badeau; 611.74; 611.83; 611.86; 611.86B; 611.86B; 661.86B; 674.80; 674.83; 683.00; 686.86B; 774.00; 786A.11; 786B.00; 786B.11; 780.00; 786.00; 787.00; 787.74; 787.86B; 811.0086B; 874.10; 883.00; 886B.00; 886B.2614 The Public Records Office (PRO), London Cabinet Papers: CAB 128,129,130,131 Foreign Office Papers: FO 371 The Canadian National Archives (CNA), Ottawa Record Group 25 (Department of External Affairs Files): 5548; 5549; 5551 ; 5606; 5607; 5862; 5870; 5871; 5872; 6138; 6139; 6140; 6141; 6142; 6143; 6144; 7806; 7807 MG 31 (Personal Records of Ambassador Arnold Smith): 81; 82; 83 Israeli State Archive (ISA), Jerusalem Records of the Foreign Office John F. Kennedy Presidential Library, Boston President Office Files (POF) National Security Files (NSF) White House Central Subject File (WHCSF) Oral History Interviews (OHI) Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library, Abilene, Kansas Hare Raymond, Oral History Interview, OH-149 Yost Charles, Oral History Interview, OH-416

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Note: The terms Egypt and Syria refer to the period until the establishment of the United Arab Republic (1 February 1958) and since its collapse (28 September 1961). ‘Abd al-Karim, Ahmad, 9, 3 8 -9,52,56,63-6, 102-5, 111-12, 161, 223 (n.), 230 (n.), 237 (n.), 241 (n.) ‘Abd al-Nasir, Gamal (see also Egypt, UAR, US, Sarraj) Arab Unity, 27-30, 33-6,42-3,61,64, 88, 119-23,150, 158, 167,173, 177, 180, 182,190-91 Ba‘th, 26-7, 3 1 -2 ,4 3 ^ , 53,97-8, 101-5, 114, 172, 179, 193-4, 266 (n.), 267 (n.) Charisma, 6-7, 177 Decline of Popularity, 128, 155, 158, 191 Decision Making, 215-6 (n.) Family, 158, 259 (n.) Iraq, 46,60-4,66, 85-8, 182-7, 222 (n.), 223 (n.), 231 (n.) Leadership, 6-7, 21-3, 27-9, 33-5, 39-40, 46, 101, 150,177-8,182, 187, 190-1, 198 (n.), 259 (n.) Military Takeover in Syria, 148-51, 187 National Union, 115-9, 179-80 Secession of Syria, 154-8 Syria, 27, 31-6, 39-48, 154-8, 162-73, 176-82,187-90, 213 (n.), 263 (n.), 264 (n.) United Arab Republic, 6-7,49-50, 54-6, 64-7, 72-4, 77-8, 80, 82, 84,90, 101-5, 110-15, 117-19, 123-6, 128, 130-1, 138-9,142-3,145-51, 217 (n.), 218 (n.), 243 (n.) Visits in the Syrian Region, 50-8, 84, 86-7, 111, 124,128-9,131-9 Yemen, 57-8, 187, 261 (n.), 268 (n.) ‘Abd al-Nasir, Tahiyya, 158, 259 (n.)

‘Abdin Abu al-Yusr, 144, 254 (n.) ‘Abd al-Qudus, Ihsan, 116, 118-9 Abu Nur ‘Abd al-Muhsin, 19, 56,99,113-14, 213 (n.) ‘Aflaq, Michel, 16, 26-7, 31,42,53,62,92, 101-5, 119,168, 172, 193, 208 (n.), 210 (n.), 222 (n.), 234 (n.), 237 (n.) Agricultural Cooperative Society (ACS), 76 Ahmad bin Yahya, Imam, 57, 164-5, 221 (n.), 261 (n.) Ajami, Fouad, 191 al-Alayili, ‘Abdallah, 27 ‘Ali Muhammad, 5, 28, 121, 190, 212 (n.) ‘Alluba, ‘Ali, 28, 182 ‘Alwan, Jasim, 9, 166 Amin, ‘Ali, 20, 116,243 (n.) Amin, Mustafa, 20, 27, 29,47,60, 107-9, 116, 243 (n.) ‘Amir, ‘Abd al-Hakim (see also Sarraj), 19-20, 31, 35,51-3, 62, 86, 110, 112, 115, 117, 126-9, 131,135, 146, 163—4, 240 (n.) Mission in Syria, 98-103, 128, 236 (n.), 242 (n.), 248 (n.) Syrian Coup, 149-151, 163^1,261 (n.) Arab Collective Defense Pact, 27 Arab Federation (1958), 57,221 (n.) Arab Hegemony (see Iraq and Egypt) Arab Higher Committee, 57 Arab League, 28, 30, 34,60, 88, 119, 155, 157,181 Beirut Conference (1959), 88 Casablanca Summit (1965), 173 Cairo Summit (1964), 173 Shtura Meeting (1962), 169-71, 261-2 (n.)


Go gle

Index Arab Revolt (1936-39), 6 Arab Solidarity Charter (1965), 173 Arab System, 195 Arab Unity (al-Wahda al-'Arabiyya) (see PanArabism) Arab-lsraeli Conflict (see Israel) 'Arafat, Yasser, 196 ‘Arif, ‘Abd al-Salam, 6(M , 85, 171,222-3 (n.) al-Aris, Thabit, 111-2,122 al-Arsuzi, Zaki, 16 al-Asad, Hafiz, 42, 114, 193,195, 242 (n.), 269 (n.) al-'Asali, Sabri, 31-2, 34, 37,43,51,56, 64-5,73, 111, 114, 124, 153, 257 (n.) Atherton, Alfred, 42,78-9 al-Atrash, Farid, 122 al-Atrash, Hasan, 217 (n.) al-Atrash, Sultan, 153 ‘Awdatallah, Tu'mah, 38,63,65, 110, 112, 117,254 (n.), 259 (n.) Ayalon, David, 5 al-Azhar, 125 al-'Azm, ‘Abd al-Rahman, 32, 226 (n.) al-‘Azm, Khalid, 9, 16, 37-41,43-5,49,114, 153,161, 171, 214 (n.), 264 (n.) al-Azmah, Bashir, 64, 112, 153,168-9, 237 (n.) 'Azzam, 'Abd al-Rahman, 28, 181-2, 207 (n.) Badeau, John, 167,191, 215 (n.) Badr, Crown Prince, 84 Baghdadi, ‘Abd al-Latif, 9, 19-20, 51-3, 68, 81-4,117, 134,205 (n.), 215 (n.), 217 (n.) Baha’ al-Din, Ahmad, 118-19, 162 al-Bakdash, Khalid, 34, 37,40-1,49, 53, 66, 214 (n.), 225 (n.) al-Baquri, Ahmad Hasan, 55 al-Barazi, Hashim, 128 al-Barudi, Fakhri, 135, 250-1 (n.) Ba'th Party, 16, 18, 25-7, 31-3, 35, 37-8, 41-2,44, 51-4, 114, 126, 146, 152, 161, 167-8, 176, 190 Army, 17-18, 38-9,42,167 Emergence of New Generation, 193 Formal Dissolution in UAR, 53 Ideology, 17, 31,42,75-6,101-5,168, 181-2, 193,208 (n.) Jordanian Branch, 102 National Command, 53, 102, 104,168, 219 (n.) National Union, 89-97,102,187, 234 (n.) Regional Command, 102, 219 (n.)


Resignation of Ministers (1959), 92, 101-5, 110, 179, 237 (n.) Role in UAR, 51-3, 64-5,72,75-8,90, 97, 114, 176-9, 187, 214 (n.), 219 (n.) al-Bazzaz, 'Abd al-Rahman, 26 Bandung Conference (1955), 21,27,29 Beeley, Harold, 246 (n.), 263 (n.) Bitar, Salah al-Din, 9, 16, 26, 31-2,42-6, 51 -4,56,64-5,92,97,101-5,110-11, 121-22,128, 153,161, 168, 171-2,193, 214 (n.), 219 (n.), 237 (n.), 257 (n.), 266-7 (n.) Assassination, 193 al-Bizri, 'Afif, 35, 3 7 ^ 5 ,5 4 ,6 3 , 87, 113, 211 (n.), 219-20 (n.), 223 (n.), 232 (n.) Resignation, 54 Brand Vance, 107-8 Britain, 9, 28, 32,41, 58,61, 155-6 Bustani, Emile, 35 Butterfield, Herbert, 175 Canada, 8, 35-7, 86, 88,112, 157-8, 232 (n.), 235 (n.) Company of Five (see al-Sharika alKhumasiyya)

Crusaders, 120-1, 217 (n.), 244 (n.) Czech Arms Deal (1955), 21, 27, 29 Darwaza, 'Izzat, 7, 181, 216 (n.), 267 (n.) al-Dawalibi, Ma'aruf, 161-2, 165 Dayri, Akram, 111, 136,143,169-71, 254 (n.), 259 (n.), 261 (n.) Development Loan Fund (DLF), 106-9 Dillon, Douglas, 107-9 Dulles, John Foster, 40, 216 (n.) Eden, Anthony, 32 Egypt (see also ‘Abd al-Nasir, US) Aleppo Insurrection (1962), 166-9 Arab Hegemony, 2,5-6,28-30, 35,46, 177-8, 182,198 (n.), 200 (n.) Arab Unity, 3,6, 27-30, 33-6, 164, 180-2, 190- 2, 195, 200 (n.) Agrarian Reform Law, 75 Economy, 3-4, 35,75 Elite, 2,18-24, 205 (n.) Foreign Policy, 1-2,6-7,29-31, 164-5, 191- 2 Free Officers, 4,6, 19-20, 26-7,75 Identity, 3, 29,119-23, 180-1, 195 Iraq, 30-1,46,60 Israel, 29,47, 178 Jordan, 34,55 Mamluk Period, 5, 66

Index Media, 9, 29,47, 156 National Charter (1962), 192 Occupation of Syria (1831-40), 5, 34, 190 Pan-Arabism (see Arab Unity) Prussia of the Arab World, 6 ,2 9 ,4 6 Secession, 154-8, 162-5 Security Dilemma, 2, 29, 33,190 (n.), 209 (n.) Settlement in Syria, 68,226 (n.) Syria, 2-7, 26-8, 30-6, 55, 154-8, 162-73, 176-8, 190,208 (n.), 210 (n.), 262-4 Tripartite Talks (1963), 171-3 Yemen Civil War (1962), 191-2, 268 (n.) Eisenhower Doctrine, 33, 39, 209 (n.) Élite (see also Egypt, Syria, UAR) Middle East, 12-13 Theory and definition, 11-12 Euphrates Dam, 109,189 Export-Import (Exim) Bank, 106-9 Faris, Nabih Amin, 26 Fatah, 196 Fawzi, Mahmud, 19-20, 35,40, 155, 167 Faysal Jamal, 54,98-9,113, 149-50 Faysal King 1,6 Fertile Crescent, 2-3,26, 30,46,86 Free Officers (see Egypt) General Federation of Trade Unions (GFTU), 135-6, 143, 218 (n.) Ghalib, Munir, 205 (n.) Ghanim, Fathi, 119 al-Ghazzi, Sa‘id, 31,151 Ghurbal, Shafiq, 119 Greater Syria (Bilad al-Sh’am), 25-6, 28 al-Hafiz, Amin, 193, 213 (n.) al-Hakim, Tawfiq, 266 (n.) Hamdun, Mustafa, 38-9, 52,56,76-9,97, 101-5,110, 161, 187, 236 (n.), 238 (n.) Hamrush, Ahmad, 219 (n.) Hansen, Bent, 137, 251 (n.) Hare, Raymond, 4 0 -1,45,47,67, 108-9, 212 (n.) Hashemites (Iraq), 30, 50-60 Hashemites (Jordan), 30, 59 Hassouna, ‘Abd al-Haliq, 155,169-71 Hatem, ‘Abd al-Qadir, 88, 147, 205 (n.) Heikal, Muhammad, Hasanin, 3,9, 20,40-1, 44,62,66, 70, 88,98, 101,118, 148-9, 150, 164-5, 181,212-14 (n.), 221-2 (n.), 231 (n.), 233 (n.), 264 (n.), 267 (n.) Homsi, Edmond, 78, 229 (n.), 234 (n.) Hourani, Akram, 9, 17, 26, 36, 38-9,42,49,

5 1 -6 ,6 4 -5 ,7 3 -5 ,7 8 ,8 2 -4 ,9 2 -7 ,1 0 1 -5 , 110-11,114, 128,153,161,168, 187, 193, 204 (n.), 213 (n.), 216 (n.), 218-19 (n.), 237 (n.) Hourani, Albert, 175-6 Humphrey, Hubert, 158 al-Hunaydi, Ahmad, 38,62-3,111,117, 241 (n.),259(n.) Husayn, Kamal al-Din, 19-20,55, 87,99, 117, 134, 146, 205 (n.) Husayn, King of Jordan, 88, 127-8, 155-6, 196, 247 (n.). 262-3 (n.) Husayn, Taha, 122-3,181,245 (n.) al-Husayni, Hajj Amin, 57 al-Husri, Sati4, 6, 26, 29, 119,168, 174-5, 181,208 (n.) Hussein, Ahmad, 40,45 Ibrahim Hasan, 19,205 (n.) Ibrahim Pasha, 5 Ilian, Mikhail, 92,257 (n.) International Bank of Reconstruction and Development (IBRD), 84,189 Iran (see also UAR), 125, 155 Iraq (see also Egypt, Syria, UAR, Qasim), 2, 30, 34, 36,47,59,60-4, 85-8, 102, 162, 171-3, 187 Arab Hegemony, 2, 30, 178 Ba‘th, 171-3, 193, 222 (n.) Communists, 63,66, 86 Jordan, 57, 127 Kuwaiti Crisis (1961), 187, 1%, 215 (n.) ‘Isa*, Sulayman, 122 Isma‘il, Hafiz, 35,43 Israel (see also Egypt, UAR), 2, 33,42,47-8, 125, 165, 178, 216 (n.), 242 (n.) Arab-Israeli Conflict, 9, 33,47-8,165, 178, 193-4, 238 (n.) Nuqaib Raid, 165 Syria, 165, 178, 193,241 (n.) Tawfiq Raid, 178, 241 (n.) ‘Izz al-Din, Jado, 38,111, 169-70, 241 (n.), 259 (n.) Jabbara, Hasan, 64 al-Jabiri, Ihsan, 36 al-Jabiri, Rashad, 236 (n.) Jadid, Salah, 193 Jawad, Hashim, 162 Jordan (see also Egypt, Iraq, UAR), 34, 55, 57, 59,61,63,67, 88,127-8, 155, 166, 170, 176,187, 196, 262-3 (n.) Jumard, ‘Abd al-Jabbar, 61,63-4 Junbalat, Kamal, 58


Index al-Jundi, Sami, 9,92, 219 (n.), 234 (n.) Kahala, Nur al-Din, 52,64, 134, 145, 254 (n.) Kallas, Khalil, 9, 31,51, 80-1,97. 102-5, 110,161, 169-70 Kamel, Mustafa, 107-9, 155 Karami, Rashid, 58 al-Kaylani, Rashid ‘Ali, 85-6, 231 (n.) al-Kayyali, 4Abd al-Rahman, 53 al-Kayyali, Fakhir, 51,64-5, 112 Kennedy, J. F., 157 Kerr, Malcolm, 172 al-Khouri, Fans, 153 Khoury, Philip, 14, 18, 176 al-Khumasiyya Company (see al-Sharika alKhumasiyya)

al-Kikhya, Rushdi, 52,92, 114, 124,153 Kuttayni, Rashad, 114 al-Kuzbari, Haydar, 149-51 al-Kuzbari, Ma’mun, 149, 151-2,159-62, 165 League of National Action, 16, 204 (n.) League of Arab Peoples, 171 Lebanon (see also Egypt, Syria, UAR), 58-60, 137, 143-4, 167,170-1, 176, 180, 188 Civil War (1958), 58-60, 221 (n.) Liberation Rally, 89 Lowenthal, David, 10 al-Mahdawi Trials (Iraq), 86, 224 (n.) al-Majali, Haza‘, 127 Majdalani, Jubran, 219 (n.) Malik, Charles, 58 al-Malki, ‘Adnan, 38,65 al-Malki, Riad, 65.98-9, 102 Mari4, Sayyid, 9 ,2 0 ,6 6 ,7 8 Mazini, ‘Abd al-Qadir, 28, 182 Misr Bank, 130-2, 137, 249 (n.) Mosul Revolt (Iraq), 85-8 Mubarak, Zaki, 28, 182 Muhi al-Din, Khalid, 19 Muhi al-Din, Zakaria, 19-20, 53, 82-4, 117, 163 Muslim Brotherhood, 18, 30, 55, 161 al-Nafuri, Amin, 38-9,43, 51-2,56,62-5, 102-5, 111-12, 161, 169-70, 237 (n.), 241 (n.) Naguib, Muhammad, 205 (n.), 223 (n.) Nakhlawi, ‘Abd al-Karim, 149-51 National League of Labor and Workers, 136 National Party (Syria), 15, 25-6, 31-2, 37, 51, 53, 79,92, 152-3, 161, 192 NATO, 30


Nizam al-Din, Tawfiq, 39 Nur al-Din, Mahmud, Sultan, 121 al-Nuss, ‘Izzat, 161,257 (n.) Ottoman Empire, 5,14-15, 17, 202 (n.) Palestine (see also Israel), 57,270 (n.) Pan-Arabism (qawmiyya ) (see also Arab Unity under Egypt, Syria, UAR, US), 1, 5-6, 25-7,59, 88, 119-23, 153-4, 174-5, 190-1, Decline, 191, 194-6, 269 (n.) Parti Populaire Syrien (PPS), 38,153,204 (n.) People’s Party (Syria), 15,25-6, 31-2,37, 52-3,62,79,92, 110, 152-3,161, 192 PLO, 268 (n.) Qabbani, Nizar, 196, 270 (n,) Qanbar, Ahmad, 32,153,251 (n.) Qannut, 4Abd al-Ghani, 38-9,65,101-5,110, 169 Qasim, ‘Abd al-Karim, 6 0 4 , 85-8, 162, 171, 187, 222-3 (n.), 231 (n.), 233 (n.) al-Qawmiyyun al-Arab , 196 al-Qaysuni, ‘Abd al-Mun‘im, 20, 80-1, 107-8, 131-4,136, 141, 240 (n.), 253 (n.) al-Qudsi, Nazim, 25, 27, 29, 114, 153, 161-2, 165,168, 260 (n.) al-Quwwatli, ‘Adnan, 257 (n.) al-Quwwatli, Shukry, 16, 31-2, 36,43-5, 49-50, 58,61, 111, 153, 199 (n.), 221 (n.)» 226 (n.), 257 (n.) Rabinovich, Itamar, 168,171-2 Radwan, Fathi, 20,54, 215 (n.) al-Rafa‘i, ‘Abd al-Rahman, 122 al-Razzaz, Munif, 191, 266 Realism, 1-2 Riad, Mahmud, 9, 19-20, 28,43, 52, 56, 113, 147, 213-14 (n.) Richards, James, 209 (n.) R ifat, Kamal, 19,21, 85,116, 205 (n.), 213 (n.) al-Rimawi, ‘Abdallah, 102, 104 Rountree, William, 67, 223 (n.) Rusk, Dean, 155,263 (n.) Sabri, ‘Ali, 19, 21, 205 (n.), 212 (n.). 215 (n.). 254 (n.) al-Sadat, Anwar, 9, 19, 36, 89-90, 117, 125, 163-4, 195, 222 (n.), 233 (n.), 235 (n.), 246 (n.), 261 (n.) Safadi, Muta4, 9

Index al-Sa‘id, Nun, 87,156, 261 (n.) Salah al-Din, 21,48, 120, 217 (n.), 244 (n.) Salem, Gamal, 19 Salem, Salah, 19 al-Samra’i, Fa’iq, 60 Sarraj, ‘Abd al-Hamid, 35, 38-9,43-4,49-52, 54, 63, 74, 86,110, 112,114-15,117, 124, 126-9,136, 140, 145-9, 180, 221 (n.), 223 (n.), 227 (n.), 231 (n.), 247 (n.), 250 (n.), 254 (n.) ‘Abd al-Nasir, Relations with 126-9,145-8 ‘Amir, Relations with 99-101,126, 128, 146-8, 248 (n.) Downfall and Dismissal, 129, 145-9, 159, 255 (n.) Sa‘ud, King, 34, 58, 227 (n.) Saudi Arabia, 30, 34,41,57-8,74, 88,155, 170,187 Sawwaf, Husni, 111, 133, 138,250 (n.), 253 (n.) SEATO, 30 Al-Shafi‘, Husayn, 19-20,117 Sham‘un, Camille, 58-60, 221 (n.) al-Sharika al-Khumasiyya (The Company of Five), 16, 132, 140,143,149,151,154, 168,189, 203 (n.), 226 (n.), 251 (n.), 256 (n.) Shawwaf Revolt (1959), 85-8,222 (n.), 231-2 (n.) Shihab, Fu’ad, 59, 171, 221-2 (n.) al-Shishakli, Adib, 17-18, 38, 126,128, 149, 204 (n.), 236 (n.), 247 (n.) al-Shishakli, Salah, 127-8, 149, 247 (n.) Shtura Meeting (1962), 169-71,261-2 (n.), 265 (n.) Shuqair, Shawkat, 126 Shu'ubiyya , 66, 225 (n.) al-Siba‘i, Hani, 53 Sidqi, ‘Aziz, 20, 81 Sidqi, Mahmud, 164 Smith, Anthony, 119 Smith, Arnold, 8, 86, 201 (n.), 232 (n.), 259 (n.) Smith, Cantwell Wilfred, 8, 201 (n.) Soviet Union, (see also Egypt, Syria, UAR), 30,63,157 Stevens, Roger, 155 Suez Canal Company Nationalization, 32-3 Suez War (1956), 21, 33,47,66, 209 (n.) al-Sufi, Jamal, 117, 259 (n.) Sulh, Sami, 59 Supreme Arab Revolutionary Command (SARC), 149-51,154, 159-60

Syria (see also Egypt) Agrarian Reform Law, 160,162, 168,194 Aleppo Insurrection, 165-9, 262-3 (n.) Arab Unity, 3,6, 14, 25-7, 31-6,45, 161, 159, 168, 170,172, 176,195, 200 (n.), 269 (n.) Communist Party, 34-7,42, 53,66, 153, 176 Domestic Politics, 1, 3,25, 33-41, 165-9, 175-6, 206 (n.) Economic Élite, 14-15, 38, 153,159-62, 176, 192 Economy, 3-4, 35, 38, 106, 194 Élite, 1-2,4,13-18,21-4,38,153, 175-7, 192 Foreign Policy, 7 French Mandate, 3, 14-16, 25, 176 Iraq, 31, 162,171-3,176 Jordan, 155,166 Lebanon, 38,58,69,167 Military Élite, 16-18,38-9,43-4,52,54, 165-9,176,180,192,213 (n.) Party System (see National, People’s and Ba‘th Parties) Recognition of New Regime (1961), 154-7 Pan-Arabism (see Arab Unity) Secessionist Regime, 151-4,159-69, 192 Soviet Union, 2, 33-7, 157,176 Tall, Wasfi, 247 (n.) Tallas, Mustafa, 42,213 (n.) Al-Tarabulsi, ‘Izzat, 137,160, 251-2 (n.), 259 (n.) Tarraf, Nur al-Din, 20,64 Turkey, 30, 34-6,40,42,47, 155 ‘Ukasha, Tharwat, 9, 19, 123, 181 ‘Umran, Mahmud, 9 United Arab Republic (UAR) Agrarian Reform Law (ARL), 53, 69, 75-82,100,103,113,141-2,150, 160, 162, 168,187, 236 (n.) Arab Dinar, 80,188 Comparison with Ibrahim’s Occupation (1831-40), 5, 190, 212 (n.) Constitution, 49-51, 89,99, 124 Currency Unification, 80-1, 188 Disintegration, 24,46, 148-58,178-82, 187-90 Dissolution of Parties, 52-3, 179-80 Drought, 69-70,78-9, 84,105-6, 132, 188 Economic Development Organization (EDO), 132,139


Index Economic Integration, 68-75, 80-2, 84, 130-44, 187-90 Education, 55, 121-2 Egyptian Domination, 112-14, 180, 182, 189, 236 (n.). 267 (n.) Egyptian Executive Council, 52,56 Egyptian Military Intervention, 151, 157, 259 (n.) Egyptian Region, 106, 130-2, 138, 141-2, 146 Foreign Aid, 70, 105-9, 189 Higher Ministerial Committee (HMC), 82^1,98 Jordan, 63,67, 127-9, 155, 247-8 (n.) Government (March 1958), 51-2 (October 1958), 64-6 (August 1961), 145-8 Identity, 56, 119-23, 181, 233 (n.) Iran, 125, 155 Iraq, 60-4, 85-8, 102, 182, 187, 223 (n.), 231 (n.), 233 (n.) Israel, 47, 57,98,103, 125, 178, 193^4, 216 (n.), 238 (n.)* 241-2 (n.) Lebanon, 58-60,68-9, 80, 106, 127-8, 137, 143-4, 180, 188, 217 (n.), 221 (n.) Legacy, 195-6 Media, 54-5,98, 116, 119-23, 220 (n.), 243 (n.) Military Takeover, 148-51, 255-6 (n.) National Assembly (NA), 51, 123-6, 141, 180, 246 (n.) National Union (NU), 52, 89-98,99-101, 115-19, 121-2, 124, 131, 134-5, 146-7, 179-80, 237 (n.) Nationality Law, 56, 120 Nationalization Decrees (July 1961), 125-6, 141-4, 150, 159, 189-90, 253-4 (n.) Opposition, 65-7 Origins, 1-2, 18, 23-4, 30-49, 175-8 Palestinians, 57, 270 (n.) Political Integration, 53-6,64-6, 89-98, 110-29, 145-8, 179-80 Repercussions, 190-6 Secessionist Manifesto, 152-3, 193 Secessionist Regime, 151-4 Soviet Union, 61, 66-7, 70, 87, 106, 225 (n.) Syrian Army (First Army), 54,98-101, 113-4, 128, 150, 156, 180,190, 242 (n.), 256 (n.) Syrian Landowning Élite, 53,56,65, 68,


75, 78-9, 100-1,103, 132, 134-5, 137, 143-4, 149, 151-2, 187, 189-90,226 (n.) Syrian Mercantile Élite, 53,68,78-81, 100-1, 132, 134, 137, 141, 143, 151-2, 187, 189-90, 249 (n.), 268 (n.) Syrian Executive Council (SEC), 52-4,56, 62, 64-6,69,72,99, 110-12, 126,131, 218 (n.), 251 (n.) Syrian Region (Economic Issues), 68-75, 80-4,98-101, 105-9, 133-44 Syrian Region (Political Issues), 50-7, 89-98,98-105, 110-29,145-51 Trade, 71, 188-9, 226-7 (n.) Trade Unions, 135-6 United States, 8, 39-42, 63,67,70,72, 105-9, 114,125,133,148, 155-6, 188, 221-2 (n.), 225 (n.), 250 (n.), 259 (n.) Yemen, 57-8 United Arab States (UAS), 57-8,164-5, 187, 261 (n.) United States (US) (see also UAR), 8,63, 157 4Abd al-Nasir, 39-42,47-8 Arab Unity, 32, 39-42 Egypt, 35, 39-42,47, 157-8, 178, 212 (n.) Lebanon, 61 Syria, 34, 36-7, 39-42,47, 167-9, 263 (n.) Unity Talks (1963), 9, 102, 171-3, 180, 191, 219 (n.), 257 (n.), 266 (n.), 267 (n.) ‘Urabi, Ahmad, 121 Vatikiotis, P. J., 21, 237 (n.) Wafd Party, 18, 245 (n.) War, 1948, 19, 270 (n.) War, 1967, 164, 191, 194-5, 268 (n.), 270 (n.) Wataniyya , 1, 64, 194-5, 269 (n.) Weber, Max, 6-7 al-Yafi, ‘Abdallah, 58 Yahya (see Ahmad bin Yahya, Imam) Yemen (see also UAR, UAS), 57-8, 84, 164-5, 187, 191-2, 221 (n.), 261 (n.) Yost, Charles, 47 Young Egypt, 18 Zaghlul, Sa‘d, 121, 245 (n.) Zahr al-D in,4Abd al-Karim, 160, 262 (n.) Za4im, Husni, 17, 38, 126 Zamaria, Lion, 257 (n.), 260 (n.) Zionism, 1,50 Zuhur,4Abd al-Karim, 219 (n.)