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Syrian Social Nationalist Party (Lebanon)

al-Hizb as-Sūrī al-Qawmī al-Ijtimā`ī, Parti Populaire Syrien

Last modified: 2021-12-18 by ian macdonald
Keywords: lebanon | politics | nationalsocialist | pan-syrian | greater syria | syrian social nationalist party | parti populaire syrien | ssnp | zouba'a | cyclone | tempest |
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الحزب السوري القومي الاجتماعي, al-Hizb as-Sūrī al-Qawmī al-Ijtimā`ī, Parti Populaire Syrien, (Syrian Social Nationalist Party)

[Syrian Social Nationalist Party (Lebanon)] image by António Martins-Tuválkin and Eugene Ipavec

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The Syrian Social Nationalist Party was founded in 1932 and advocates the union of Lebanon, Syria, Cyprus, Palestine, Jordan, Iraq, and Kuwait in a single state. The flag shows the party's emblem, a red zouba'a (cyclone or tempest), symbolising strength and dynamism. The red color symbolises the dawn of a healthy new era brought about by the party replacing the current (black) reactionary era. The four sides the of the zouba'a represent the four party values of freedom, duty, discipline and power. Another explanation of the zouba'a is that it represents the union of the Christians and Muslims of united Syria – the cross (symbol of Christianity) and the crescent (symbol of Islam) can be combined to create the symbol of the zouba'a.
'Severus', 20 November 1996

The Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP, also called the Parti Populaire Syrien) was (still is, in Lebanon) a pan-Syrian party, as opposed to a pan-Arab party. The party's symbol is a black "hurricane" emblem in a white circle on, if I remember correctly, a red flag. I just found a picture of the SSNP flag. The SSNP is a fascist-type party established in the early 1930s by Antun Sa'ada, a Lebanese immigrant to Brazil who spoke German and whose vision of a Greater Syria was definitely influenced by German nationalist writings. The SSNP flag, salute, etc. definitely resemble Italian and German fascism. The party was influential in Syria and Lebanon in the 1950s, and is still around in Lebanon.
Michael R. Fischbach, 16 November 1997

The above description has no connection to reality. You should read about Antun Sa'ada, study his writings and know the real cause which made him create a Syrian Social Nationalist renaissance which would fulfill its declared principles and return the Syrian nation to vitality and strength; the organization of a movement seeking the complete independence of the Syrian nation and the vindication of its sovereignty; the establishment of a new order to protect its interest and raise its standard of living; and the endeavor to form an Arab front. Thus the SSNP is a not a fascist-type party but a Syrian Social Nationalist Party which is absolutely independent of any fascist thoughts.
Some comments on the above description:

  1. Antun Sa'ada was a Syrian citizen and not a Lebanese immigrant to Brazil, although he was in Brazil for some time.
  2. He spoke four other languages other than German. It may be that you only mentioned that he could speak German to imply that he was influenced by German nationalist writings, which is not true.
  3. Concerning the flag, it is an ancient Syrian symbol and it definitely does not resemble Italian and German fascism because it is of a purely Syrian foundation.
  4. The Syrian homeland is that geographic environment in which the Syrian nation evolved. It has distinct natural boundaries and extends from the Taurus range in the northwest and the Zagros mountains in the northeast to the Suez canal and the Red Sea in the south and includes the Sinai peninsula and the gulf of Aqaba, and from the Syrian sea in the west, including the island of Cyprus, to the arch of the Arabian desert and the Persian gulf in the east. (This region is also known as the Syrian Fertile Crescent).
  5. The party is [established] all over the world and not just in particular parts of natural Syria like (Lebanon & Syria) as they are [currently] politically determined.
This short letter was written by Sa'ada during his first imprisonment in 1935, at the request of his lawyer Hamid Franjieh. It offers a valuable insight into the political and intellectual atmosphere in which the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) was formed:
(...) I came to the conclusion that the loss of national sovereignty was the primary cause of my nation's past and present woes. (...) I decided to enter the political field by following the path of a new social nationalist renaissance that would guarantee the purification of the existing nationalist beliefs and their unification into a single ideology and would, in turn, foster the kind of solidarity (Esprit de Corps) which is essential for national cooperation, progress, and the protection of the national interest and rights. (...) I realized that I would then have to devise means that would protect the new social nationalist renaissance as it surged ahead. It was this that first suggested to me the idea of forming a secret political party that would initially incorporate those forces of our youth that stand out for their integrity and lack of affection for the corruption of debased politics. So I founded the Syrian Social Nationalist Party and I unified the various nationalist beliefs into the one idea namely Syria is for the Syrians and the Syrians are one nation. I also laid down a number of reform principles, namely, the separation of religion from the state, turning production into an infrastructure for the distribution of wealth and labour, and the establishment of a strong army that can play an effective role in determining the destiny of the nation and the homeland. (...) I laid all of this down and went ahead with founding the party in total disregard of the existence or non-existence of the mandate. Thus, the party was not founded exclusively as a counterweight to the mandate, but to unify the Syrian nation into a sovereign state that has the will to determine its own destiny. (...) The party was not founded on the principle of foreigner hatred or chauvinism, but on the principle of social nationalism.

Anon, 26 February 2000

A photo showing vertical variants of the SSNP flag and the Lebanese national flag can be seen at this webpage.
M. Schmöger, 26 July 2002

In a news report in German TV (Heutejournal, ZDF, 12 Mar 2005) the withdrawal of Syrian troops from some parts of Lebanon was shown. Beside many Syrian national flags waved by the Syrian soldiers as well as by some demonstrating people there was a short glimpse of the flag of the SSNP party.
This was the first time I actually saw this party flag; that it was used during a presumably pro-Syrian demonstration in Lebanon supports, what we already know about this party, namely that it is a "pan-Syrian" party supporting the inclusion of Lebanon (and perhaps other territories) into Syria.
M. Schmöger, 13 Mar 2005

Today I also visited the PALMACH Museum in Tel-Aviv. Naturally, I was also interested in flags (And a report on PALMACH flags to be followed), but another item was photos taken by Gamli'el Cohen of the "Arab Platoon" which was a unit of oriental Jews impersonating Arabs in order to operate behind enemy lines.
In two photos one can see the flag of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party. The first photo can be seen here.
The description (translated by me):

"Anton Sa'ada, the leader of the Syrian National Party in Lebanon, makes a speech claiming that every "Syrian" Jew (i.e. citizen of Syria and Lebanon) is an enemy of [greater] Syria and should be treated as an enemy. The symbol resembles a swastika and is called "Al-Zoub'a'a" (The Storm). Photo taken on 1 March 1949

The second photo taken at same occasion is here. The description adds that that it was taken at an assembly of the Syrian National Party in Lebanon in order to celebrate Anton Sa'ada's birthday and that Gamli'el Cohen took them after becoming a member of this party.
Dov Gutterman, 25 July 2005

Flag Variants

[Syrian Social Nationalist Party, as reported in Gaceta (Lebanon)] image by Jorge Hurtado and Michel Lupant, exported to GIF by Santiago Dotor

[Gaceta de Banderas, January 2002, contains images of Lebanese political parties, reported by Michel Lupant and drawn by Jorge Hurtado following his specifications. (...) The flag of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party shows the red 'cyclone' slightly differently placed, standing on its sides rather than on its points, so to speak. Proportions ca. 2:3. However, images in several SSNP web pages (like those linked from this webpage, no longer available, to a SSNP office in Lebanon and a SSNP founder webpage) show flags more similar to the one at the top.
Santiago Dotor, 22 May 2002

[Syrian Social Nationalist Party, as reported in Gaceta (Lebanon)] image by James Dignan, 05 December 2011

Recent TV coverage of the ongoing protests in Syria showed a brief image of an unusual flag which I haven't seen reported here. I looked almost like a Nazi-era German flag with reversed colours and a different central emblem, a red rotationally symmetrical symbol on a white disc on a black flag. I've made a quick (and very rough) digital sketch of it.
James Dignan, 05 December 2011

More about the party history (in both Syria and Lebanon) here. The party was not legalized in Syria until 2005 and had to accept the leading role of Ba'ath Party in order to achieve legal status, so it would be interesting to find out where exactly its flag was flown - at pro-regime or oppositional protests (prior to its illegalization in 1955, it was the greatest rival of Ba'ath).
Tomislav Todorović, 05 December 2011