Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party
The Syrian Socialist Nationalist Party (SSNP) has been one of the most influential multisectarian parties in Lebanon. Its main objective has been the reestablishment of historic Greater Syria, an area that approximately encompasses Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Israel. Over the years the SSNP has often resorted to violence to achieve its goals.
The SSNP was founded in 1932 by Antun Saadah, a Greek Orthodox, as a secret organization. His party, very much influenced by fascist ideology and organization, grew considerably in the years after independence. In fact, in a survey taken in 1958 by the French newspaper L'Orient, the SSNP was said to have 25,000 members--at the time, second only to the Phalange Party. Concerned by its strength, the government cracked down on the SSNP in 1948, arresting many of its leaders and members. In response, SSNP military officers attempted a coup d'état in 1949, following which the party was outlawed and Saadah was executed. In retaliation, the SSNP assassinated Prime Minister Riyad as Sulh in 1951.
In the 1950s, although still banned, the SSNP renewed its activities fairly openly. During the 1958 disturbances, the SSNP militia supported President Shamun, who rewarded it by authorizing it to operate legally. But in December 1961, when another attempted coup by SSNP members failed, it was again outlawed and almost 3,000 of its members imprisoned. In prison, the party underwent serious ideological reform when certain Marxist and pan-Arab concepts were introduced into the party's formerly right-wing doctrine.
Since the 1960s, the party has become more leftist. Most of its members joined the Lebanese National Movement and fought alongside the PLO throughout the 1975 Civil War. But during this period the party suffered internal divisions and defections, and since then party unity has been elusive. In 1987 there were at least four separate factions claiming to be the authentic inheritors of Saadah's ideology. The two most important were led by Issam Mahayri, a Sunni, and Jubran Jurayj, a Christian. Each faction was trying to settle disputes by means of violence.
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