Baqdash, Khalid (1912–)
BAQDASH, KHALID (1912–)
Syrian political figure, born to a Kurdish family in Damascus. Khalid Baqdash joined the National Bloc, the main Syrian nationalist organization, in 1929. Later he became a member of the Syrian-Lebanese Communist Party, climbing rapidly to a position of leadership. Having been arrested a number of times by the French authorities, who had a mandate over Syria, Baqdash left Syria for the Soviet Union, where he enrolled in a school that trained party cadres. In 1935, he led the delegation of the Syrian-Lebanese Communist Party to the Seventh Comintern Congress, in Moscow. The following year, the victory of the Popular Front in France allowed him to return to Syria and play an important role in political life there. In 1937, he became secretary general of the Syrian-Lebanese Communist Party, replacing Fuʾad Shemli. For two years the Communist Party expanded rapidly in Syria and Lebanon, until the fall of the Popular Front, which led to the interdiction of the party.
Baqdash reappeared on the political scene in 1941, with the arrival in Syria of the Free French Forces, whom he joined in the fight against fascism. Baqdash acquired international stature after the war. In 1948, he became the Cominform delegate for the Middle East while the Communist Party was banned again in post-independence Syria. The military regimes that followed each other in Damascus strengthened the position of the Syrian Communist Party. Baqdash won a seat in the 1954 elections, thereby becoming Syria's first Communist representative. He quickly became one of his country's principal political figures. In 1958, after the creation of the Syrian-Egyptian union, he strongly opposed "the Nasserian protection." A ban on political parties forced him to leave Syria for an exile of eight years in the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, and Bulgaria. The strengthening of the left wing of the Baʿth Party, which had come to power in 1966, allowed him to return to Syria once more, where from then on he played only a secondary role while supporting the regime. In 1972, accused of having concentrated too much power in his hands, his became a minority voice in the political bureau, and two years later he was no longer part of the leadership of the Syrian Communist Party.