The Syrian Social Nationalists: In the Hurricane of Revolt

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(Photo: Haytham al-Moussawi)

By: Ghadi Francis

Published Friday, August 26, 2011

As the ‘Syrian nation’ goes through times of turbulence, will the Syrian Social Nationalists be content chanting, along with their leadership, the pro-Syrian regime chant of “God, Syria and Bashar (Assad)”?

When Dar’a broke out in revolt, Wael Husnieh, the Dean of Defense from the Leadership Office of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) in Rawsheh, Beirut headed to the party’s executive branch in al-Suwaida’, Syria. There, he sat lecturing members of the party about conspiracies, sedition, a Western campaign, and enemy ambitions. One of the members present at the meeting wondered why this man came from Beirut to tell him about the people of Daraa, instead of asking those in the room who had been living the events. As the red tornado emblems of the SSNP flag fluttered in the streets of Ras Beirut to “God, Syria and Bashar only” chants, other hurricane emblems fluttered in Hama to a different line – “the people want to overthrow the regime.”

Division among party members is not new but has never been this intense. Despite the “lebanonization” of a party concerned with the entire “Syrian nation,” the reservoir of the Syrian Social Nationalists in ‘Sham’ – the SSNP name for the Syrian Republic – has never stopped pumping young blood into the party. Its Sham executive bodies are located in the Syrian cities of Deir al-Zour and al-Suwaida and stretch from Hama to Dar’a and from Aleppo to Damascus. It is hard to find a Syrian city through which Antun S’adeh, the founder of the SSNP, did not pass as he preached his nationalist message of Syrian unity. Members of these executive bodies are divided today. Some have protested in support of the regime and some have protested demanding its overthrow. Still others, fearful for the ‘nation,’ remain silent. There are also those who prepare themselves to split away from the party or to establish a new party. But most prefer that Bashar Assad embarks on reforming his regime before it is too late.

Divisions among lower ranks and file are not echoed among the top leadership. The party leadership resolutely supports the Syrian regime. Some see its current position to be in harmony with the party, its history, and the strategic decision to keep resistance against Israel as the top priority. The Vice President of the party for Sham affairs, Safawan Salman, argues that “the Syrian position, politically and geographically, is critical in the national and regional scene. Therefore, whatever rattles the stability of the Syrian state will unravel the entire national scene.” Salman sees dialogue and real reform as a priority to safeguard the old principles behind the wave of Syrian rage: “We are simultaneously with the stability of the Syrian state and the cohesion of Syrian society, and with profound and extensive reforms. We believe that the stability of Syrian society is necessary for the reforms to succeed.” In the meantime, the party institution headed by Assad Hardan (the party’s leader) continues to protest “in support of Bashar.” When asked about this issue, an SSNP source replied that their allegiance is unwavering, their protests of support will not stop, and whoever opposes the regime will be expelled from the party.

The SSNP, like other ideological parties, has long suffered from little tolerance of internal dissent. Whoever knows the internal workings of the party and passes through its headquarters in Rawsheh knows and learns that the party system resembles, to a large extent, the Syrian regime—in its media offices, its poeticized slogans, and the focus on security surrounding party mobilization. The SSNP never hid its pride in its military force, which serves to confront opposition when necessary. Similarly, the party youth in the Hamra district of Beirut do not hide their daily function as a partisan security apparatus. On the cultural level, successive leaderships have managed to distance critical intellectuals and new ideas, thus preventing political renovation.

Symptomatic of this climate, dismissals, expulsions, and resignations of young party members have coincided with the Syria protests: Sami Assaf from the directorate of the University of Balamand in Lebanon has been active on Facebook against the regime, expressing enthusiastic opposition. On the Syrian side, a university colleague from Latakia replies, “They have expelled me from the party.” Another person from Douma writes, “me too, I was dismissed a month and half ago.” Zaki al-Dada from the Jaramana directorate presented a detailed farewell message, thanking the party and his friends and explaining why he feels intellectually orphaned.

A former General Executive preparing for a “political revolution” describes the problem of the party today. He claims there is no administrative follow-up for the party in Sham. Each executive body works alone, while the center is busy with its “individual concerns and daily affairs.”Meanwhile, the political administration for the party in Sham has not met for four years, in accordance with the orders of Issam al-Mahairy, the head of its politburo. Critics argue that the party’s stagnation has burdened the Syrian regime with which it is allied, as the SSNP no longer seems to serve the role it was expected to play in Sham society.

Outside the main body of the party institution, there are those who espouse Syrian Social Nationalism without paying too much attention to the main party line. In the home of “Secretary” Abd al-Karim Abd al-Rahman in Latakia, former Syrian Social Nationalists from coastal Syria meet to discuss recent events. Similar meetings take place in the home of Hassan Salloum in al-Rawda, Damascus. Mobilizing around them is a group of young businesspeople and professionals.

There are also those who are not card-carrying members of the SSNP, but who drink from the same intellectual stream. Among them is Nabil Matouk, a businessman from Hama, the prominent contractor Mamoun Ghannama al-Deiry, and the famous business agent Omar Karkour. They provided financial help in the past to support cultural and social activities, funding the party’s projects in Damascus. Back when the party was more active, former Lebanese leader Elie Ghassan travelled between Beirut and Damascus coordinating relations between the two headquarters. These allies embraced the ideas of Syrian nationalism and, in return, party members have embraced them. Today, many have distanced themselves from the party. Thirty something Matouk says “There are Syrian Social Nationalists but there is no Syrian Social Nationalist Party because the leadership is busy with its own affairs and personal agendas.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Comments

Whatever actions do the SSNP take, it must respect the sovereignty of its neighbor country -Lebanon.

I think people should have a say in this issue and there are limited options for them. Either they have to stay in Lebanon or leave to Syria. An urgent reformation of the party will be ideal for the people.

If these people in Lebanon love Syria so much, and want to live as Syrians...let them leave Lebanon and move to Syria. - I totally agree with this. no deposit bonus forex

If these people in Lebanon love Syria so much, and want to live as Syrians...let them leave Lebanon and move to Syria.

Okay so Syria is the name of the natural state that the SSNP alludes to, it is not modern day Syria as you know it. So when you direct them to go to Syria to live they are in fact according to the doctrine of the SSNP indeed living in Syria. Further to that point, I have to say that my late grandfather who was born in what is considered modern day Lebanon, left me his personal belongings and one of them is his identification card, it states that he was born in the village he is from (again modern day Lebanon) in the Levent or also known as "Bilaad il Shaam" he was born in 1903 prior to your Fench Masters creating the state of Lebanon. In otherwords, the SSNP declares the land we stand on in the Levent as one nation one people. I cannot see that as harmful to anyone or entity other than those who seek to cause chaos in our homeland.

No need to leave Lebanon as Lebanon is a natural component of Syria

I see no reason to fear a party calling itself the National Socialists.

Oh, look at you, so clever.
It's "social nationalist." "Al-Qawmiyya al-ijtimaiyya." A different phenomenon entirely from national socialism, which is "al-ishtirakiyya al-qawmiyya." Also the doctrines of the SSNP are completely different from national socialism ... the Nazis advocate racial purity, the social nationalists advocate pretty much the opposite.

rather than being merely "busy" with its own agendas and affairs, the decline of the SSNP, particularly given the role it has played as an indiscriminate orbit and, throughout the current crisis, as an outsourced and proxy arm of oppressing the opponents of the assad oligarchy, has meant that it has increasingly dramatically lost its autonomy and credibility, but also that its rank and file would now have to pay for the compromised stance of the party's leadership, as testifies the murder of samir qantari in idlib.

It is high time that the SSNP undergoes some serious reform and for the youth in the party to take on a real leadership role or to defect.

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