• Joshua Landis on Twitter: “In some respects, Syria’s move to USSR was driven by the Arab/Israeli conflict.”

    1. In some respects, Syria’s move to USSR was driven by the Arab/Israeli conflict.
    2. US was planning to rebuild Syrian military in 1947, with training mission and arms sales.
    3. The start of fighting in Palestine in 1947 caused Sec State Marshall to cancel the agreement & training mission.

    He knew that congress could not support helping Syria military w war looming in Palestine. Also Tripartite Arms Embargo imposed by US/FR/GB
    5. Once Syria’s Pres. Quwatli was told of US retraction, his men began counseling him to seek arms from USSR. Quwatli refused for fear of GB
    6. But the refusal of all Western Powers 2 help Syrian military, caused it to turn 2 USSR w friendship agreement & follow Nasser’s arms deal
    7. These BBC interviews w Syrian statesmen & PM, underline that they did not associate Friendship Agreement w becoming Communist, as US did
    8. By organizing failed coups against Khalid al-Azm and Sabri al-Asali’s government, the US undermined the pro-Western politicians of Syria.

    The Baath Party leaders and their military officer sympathizers used the West’s interventions and plotting to go to Nasser & form the UAR.
    10. Politicians, such as Azm & Quwatli, who knew making Nasser was a bad idea & who had fought for Syrian independence, had to go along.
    11. They feared being called Western stooges. They also were confused by the West’s stupidity and aggression against them.
    12. This is the context of these BBC interviews, which were carried out during the lead up to the UAR and the time of the Suez Crisis.
    13. Between 1955 and 1958, Syria received about $294 million from the Soviet Union for military and economic assistance.
    14. In a meeting of Ambassadors at end of WWII, US decided best postwar strategy was to align w KSA & Syria. The KSA because of oil & Aramco
    15. Syria, because pipelines would run from KSA thru Syr. Also Syria had no exclusive agreement with FR or GB. It was free & turned to US
    16. Khalid al-Azm who was PM at end 1948, negotiated military agreement w US & base rights w GB, which wanted 2 est MEDO - Mid East Def Org
    17. But the US broke off these agreements to support Jewish State in Palestine & then supported Chief of Staff Husni Zaim to overthrow Azm.
    18. US supported Azm/Quwatli overthrow, even though they were democratically elected gov, because Zaim offered to sign armistice w Israel.
    19. Zaim also offered to build Tapline, oil pipeline that Syr parliament put on hold, and to arrest communists, etc.

    The US was not a driving force behind Zaim coup. Zaim was determined 2 take power, b/c Quwatli gov was going to accuse him of corruption.
    21. Pres Quwatli was going to use Zaim as the scapegoat for loss of 1948 war. Major corruption trials were leading to top officers.