Istiqlal Party: Syria

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The Independence party, officially founded in Damascus on 5 February 1919.

Also known as Hizb al-Istiqlal al-Arabi (Arab Independence party), the party was established after the demise of the Ottoman Empire and during the Arab kingdom of Syria under Faisal I ibn Hussein. Its core members were drawn from the committee of the secret Arab society al-Fatat (Young Arab Society). The founding members of the Istiqlal were Saʿid Haydar, Asʿad Daghir, Fawzi al-Bakri, Abd al-Qadir al-Azm, Salim Abd al-Rahman, Faʾiz al-Shihabi, and Muhammad Izzat Darwaza, its secretary who was at the same time the secretary of al-Fatat. They decided to come into the open and form a political party under a new name. Al-Fatat continued to exist as the mother party of the Istiqlal, which was considered its spokesman. Members from the other Arab secret society, al-Ahd (the Covenant), also joined the Istiqlal. Party adherents, known as al-Istiqlaliyyun (the Independentists), were active in the towns of Syria, where the party had branches during the early years of the French Mandate. Istiqlal also included Palestinian members, who were active against the British Mandate authority in Palestine, 19231948.

Istiqlal called for Arab unity and independence; it was secular rather than religious. Faisal had supported it financially and politically while he ruled Syria (19181920). The party supported the Great Syrian Revolt of 1925 and party members supported the Palestine Arab Revolt of 19361939. It is not known whether the Syrian party was still functioning in 1936.

see also ahd, al-; darwaza, muhammad izzat; faisal i ibn hussein; fatat, al-; palestine arab revolt (19361939).


Khoury, Philip. Syria and the French Mandate: The Politics of Arab Nationalism, 19201945. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1987.

Khoury, Philip. Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism: The Politics of Damascus, 18601920. Cambridge, U.K., and New York: Cambridge University Press, 1983.

Muslih, Muhammad. "The Rise of Local Nationalism in the Arab East." In The Origins of Arab Nationalism, edited by Rashid Khalidi et al. New York: Columbia University Press, 1991.

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