Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP; in Arabic, Al-Hizb A—Suri Al-Qawmi Al-Ijtima ?i)
SYRIAN SOCIAL NATIONALIST PARTY (SSNP; in Arabic, al-Hizb a—Suri al-Qawmi al-Ijtima ʿi)
Syrian socialist political party. Under the name Parti Populaire Syrien (Syrian Popular Party), a name that is still in use, the SSNP was created in November 1932 by Antun Saʿada, a Maronite Christian, during the French Mandate in Beirut. The SSNP was a pan-Syrian party whose ideology and organization owed much to contemporary European fascism. It opposed both the independence of Lebanon from Syria and pan-Arab nationalism, advocating instead "the rise of the Syrian nation" within its "natural" borders.
Saʿada's conception of "Syria" included the traditional area of Greater Syria (Bilad al-Sham)—Syria, Lebanon, western Jordan, and Palestine—as well as eastern Jordan, Iraq, Kuwait, part of Iran, part of Turkey, the Sinai Peninsula, and Cyprus.
As a party of secular nationalism, it counted members of all ideologies. Between 1935 and 1937 many were arrested, prompting others to leave Lebanon. Legally authorized in April 1944, the SSNP was at that time led by Nehmé Tabet, aided by Fayez Sayegh; but after two years of exile in Brazil, Saʿada returned to Lebanon in 1947 and retook the leadership of the party, moving it toward confrontation with the Lebanese government.
After an attack on the party by the Phalange in 1949, Saʿada attempted an armed rebellion that led to the arrest of hundreds of party members. Saʿada fled to Syria, but was betrayed by Syrian president General Husni al-Zaʿim who handed him over to Lebanese authorities; he was executed by them on 8 July 1949. Zaʿim's betrayal provoked a coup d'état in Syria on 14 August, removing the general from power.
The SSNP, which had particpated in the overthrow, moved its headquarters to Damascus under the leadership of Georges Abdul Massih, and nine of its members were elected to the Syrian parliament. Between 1950 and 1958, the party increased its activities in Lebanon, opposing the Communists and Arab nationalists. On 22 April 1955 a SSNP member assassinated the Syrian assistant chief-of-staff, Baʿthist Adnan Malki; this resulted in Syria banning the party and expelling its members from the country. In 1961, the SSNP participated in an attempted coup d'état in Lebanon and was declared illegal in that country as well, but by 1970 the party had been reinstated in Lebanon, and Abdallah Saʿada was elected to its head.
During the Lebanese civil war (1975–1990) the SSNP split into factions. One of these, headed by Inʿam Raad, tried to combine a form of Marxism with the semi-fascist SNP ideology; this group joined the Lebanese National Movement (LNM), an alliance of leftist secularist groups. Two more factions sufaced in 1984: one was pro-Syrian and led by Isam Mahayri, the second was pro-Libyan and headed by Daud Baz.
The parliamentary block of the SSNP proposed the abolition of confessionalism in Lebanon in 1992, and supported Islamic resistance against the Israeli presence in South Lebanon. On 5 August 2001, for the first time in 47 years, the SSNP organized a public meeting in Damascus, presided over by its secretary general Jubran Arbadji.
SEE ALSO Phalange.