A Ride to India across Persia and Baluchistán by Harry De Windt

By Harry De Windt

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As Hafez al-Assad’s son, he was often able to witness at close range the political processes that shaped Syria’s role in the Middle East and in the world. One of the significant historical events he witnessed was his father’s effort to stabilize Syria’s relationship with Egypt. Hafez al-Assad knew that he needed allies in order to survive as the new leader of Syria. To that end, he turned to 57 58 B A S H A R A L- A S S A D Egypt and its president, Gamal Abdel Nasser, with the aim of restoring an old though uneasy friendship.

The Lion of Damascus Jordan’s king also faced other problems. Syria’s government criticized the actions of the Jordanian army; it reserved especial criticism for King Hussein, whom the Ba’ath party disliked. The Ba’athists espoused a socialist ideology and were thus opposed to monarchies. Furthermore, it was a widely held assumption that King Hussein was susceptible to the influences of the American and British governments; he made no secret of his attempts to keep an open relationship with these powers, especially with the Americans.

After brutally suppressing an uprising by the country’s Druze population, he was forced to flee Syria after yet another coup d’etat in 1954. The Ba’ath Party’s leaders observed the chaotic governmental structure carefully and seized their chance. They merged with the Arab Socialist Party in 1953, an alliance from which both parties benefited. A similar attempt to merge with The Rise of the Ba’ath Party the Syrian Communist Party would not prove as fruitful. To the dismay of the socialist-leaning Ba’athists, the communists began to dominate the political scene.

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