Derived from the Baath military coup succession in Iraq In Syrian Baath branch conspired and orchestrated on the 8th of March 1963’s taking over the state power from the civic legitimate president Nazim Al-Qudsy and Khaled Al Azeem’s elected government. The military announced a state of emergency and nullified the parliamentary election that was to be held in June. The new leaders implemented a new policy that jeopardized civic bars and associations whose structure and organizations were recovering from the dismantling they suffered from during the previous coups. The continuous interference by the new state leadership endured since then a single party leadership. This policy rendered Al Baath’s grip on power solidified their rule in the Syrian constitution to be “the single ruling leading party of the state and society”.
The party capacitance his members as well as akin organizations with a range of leverages that scaled up their status to dominate the state and control the society at large. However, this was included and excluded within the party itself by some members over one another causing eventually inner conflicts. Between 1963-1970 military coups occurred between the Ba’ath members themselves. The last one was led by Hafiz Assad in 1970 which was named the Glorious Corrective Movement (Al-Ḥarakah Al-Taṣḥīḥīyaha).
The plot leader, however, did not hold the state presidency immediately after overthrowing his party companion Salah Jadedd. One of the notable aspects of this coup is the absence of militarization. No army or tanks were moving across the capital’s streets as per usual. The coup had, rather, a quick turnover after disagreements within the party. The disagreement led to another collapse in the party’s unity. In October 1970, Hafiz ordered the army to seize the Party’s offices across Syrian and arrested those whose faith or disagreement with Hafiz and his ally back then Refat Tlaas was questioned.
The Rise of Hafiz
While his predecessors’ coups leaders appointed themselves right after overthrowing the previous authorities, Assad did not follow suit. He appointed Ahmad AlKhatib as the temporary president who was from a civic background, however, this decisive move from Hafiz was part of his plan to further bolster the Ba’ath rule within the state associations, local and government apparatuses to eventually secure and prop up Assad rule grip across Syria.
Afterward, Assad laid out the establishment of the transitional regional leadership of Al Ba’ath party whose members appointed the parliament members, instead of organizing elections. Throughout the parliament, Hafiz made it to Syria’s presidency. In February 1970, the parliament who was utterly included Baath loyalists nominated Hafiz to hold the presidency of the state and hold a national, nominal, referendum which later in March 1971, brought Hafiz Al Assad to the presidency bar.
Under the state of emergency, the Ba’ath continued to run the country. The parliament was commanded to write a new Syrian constitution. In addition, the National Progressive Front (NPF) who was, ostensibly a front to show the pluralism of the new Assad era, however, it was akin or a shadow of the state single party encompassing the socialist and communist parties, Naseri and the Nationalist Syrian party who were on the same page with Ba’ath and under his censorship.
A prolonged history of abolishing of civil and political rights
Al Assad, following his coup in 1970 pledged to expand liberties and minimized the military and security power. However, they constantly oppressed any potential civil rights movement claiming that it undermines that “revolution’s movement gains”. These steps erupted in scattered protests, however in low volume and continued to disappear due to the large scale of the arrest. Notwithstanding April 1964, when mass protests took off to the Syrian’ cities streets, however, it was cracked down by the army and “labor militant” who were unorganized groups founded by Al-Ba’ath party to suppress the widespread movement. In January 1965, mass strikes kicked off due to a series of nationalization decrees. The same militant attacked the public’s store breaking and forced opening the shops to end the mass strike.
Hafez’ authoritarian rule
After winning the referendum of the country in 1971. The new face of the Ba’ath leader facilitated overwhelming turbulence expanded to outside Syria’s borders. From the Liberation October war with Israel to the interference that Assad endeavored throughout creating and allying with certain parties in Lebanon to which increased Syrians’ anger. In parallel with wide range external deeds the domestic economic statue to drastically collapse. While the government established in its strife to save and improve economic planning and situation at large, however, the embedded corruption by Assad circles had depleted the economy and accelerated its breakdown. The overall lack of accountability and maintaining emergency status in the country had protected the military personals in the state to overstep and challenged the law order, hence the local economic and social struggle turned to a rock bottom misery.
In the following years and due to the wide repression and imprisonment and mistreatment of prisoners in Syria a prominent opposition figure Marwan Hadid was reported dead. Hadid’s death marked further wide furious repercussions by his followers who succeeded to kill many of the Assad regime’s well-known figures at the time. Nonetheless, the bloody ramifications were considered foreseeable occurrences due to the overarching Assad dictatorship regime. The lack of political pluralism or any platform for expression of political discourse, journalism, and civil activities across the country disappeared in Syria throughout the first decades of the Al-Assad family.
At the onset of 1980, a new age of higher level of oppression Syrian was about to face. Summoned by Hafiz, the Ba’ath Nationalist leadership gathered where Hafiz promoted the military solution to eliminate any movement that can pose a threat to the party’s power. Calling for the “Revolutionary Violence” movement against any act that undermines the “Corrective Movement” gains. Consequently, in March 1980, the army marched to siege the city of Jisr Al Shughour as well as Aleppo’s defense Brigade where Assad loyal troops killed and arrested much military personnel.
One last endeavor of civil right movement prospect
In the midst of Assad’s military campaign against his potential opponents an old-new civil action rise. On the 31st of March 1980, joint protest by the medical, engineering law and pharmacy associations began a mass strike due to the steep decline of human rights and the steep surge of state repression across the country. What originated the movement, however, was Assad calls for “revolutionary violence” which was deemed as declaration zero-freedoms policy in the country. This strike, however, led to a complete shutdown to all profession bars or labor associations and arresting the leaders of the strike. Furthermore, this wave encompassed the leaders of communist party leader Reyad Al Turk as well as the cross-border assassination attempts of Assad’s oppositions such as Salah Al-Bitar in Paris in 1980.
In mid-1980, and after a failed attempt to assassinate Assad himself, widespread reprisal attacks by the army kicked off in different aspects. According to Kamaal Deeb’s book “Syria’s contemporary history”, that one day after the failed attempt, Assad’s brother, Refat led a group of the special forces to Tadmor prison where Hafiz jailed the majority of the political and military opponents to his rule. The operation recorded 500 execution cases, without trial. The violence wave carried on and rather transferred to a larger scale causing massive civilian casualties at Hama in 1982’s well-known massacre which attracted a lot of global attention and criticism to Assad at that time.
Patrik Seal’s book Assad-the Struggle over the middle east, note that the total casualties of the massacre reached nearly 10.000 deaths and over than 15.000 enforced disappearance, as well as 100.000, were displaced civilians due to the mass bombardment of civilian neighborhoods.
After the unprecedented mass violence, Syrian suffered from the Hama massacre. A new chapter of fear and extreme degradation of human rights had begun. Syrians were deprived of any aspect of liberties, freedoms, while the civil society struggled from supreme prosecution as Assad tightened his grip on power and did not tolerate or endorse any speech that would criticize his rule.
The government facilities, resources, and economy were not devoted not to enhance the living standards of the Syrian people, but to exclusively indulge his small circle of beneficiaries and keep him in power until his death in 2000. Shortly after his death, his son, Bashar, took over by the well-known one-minute constitution amendment session at the Parlement of the required president age to suit Bashar Al Assad at the time. On the 17th of June 2000, the eye doctor oathed to rule the country according to the constitution. The constitution that his father kept his father in power and does until the very moment.