The Syrian Communist Party
The Syrian Communist Party (SCP), the bitter adversary of the Baath Party in the late 1950s, was in 1987 the second largest legal political party in Syria and an important constituent element of the NPF. The venerable Khalid Bakdash, a Kurd from Damascus who has been called the "dean of Arab communism," remained the SCP's secretary general. Politburo member Daniel Nimah represented the party on the Central Command of the NPF and accompanied Assad on his state visits to Moscow. In the early 1980s, the SCP was temporarily banned by Assad; however, in 1986 it was restored to favor, partially as a concession to the Soviet Union. Nine SCP members were elected to the People's Council in early 1986 elections, and the SCP held its sixth party congress in Damascus in July. During the congress, SCP Central Committee members who had precipitated the rift with Assad through strident criticism of the regime were purged from the party.
The SCP was organized like other communist parties and had a Politburo, Secretariat, Central Committee, and official publication, a magazine entitled Nidal ash Shaab(The People's Struggle). In the mid-1980s, the SCP stressed its political and ideological independence from the Syrian regime and operated to a limited extent as a genuine opposition party. It criticized Baath Party economic policies, refereed regime relations with the Soviet Union, and, through its Committee for Solidarity with African and Asian Nations, acted as a conduit for Syrian relations with some Third World nations.
SCP criticism of the Syrian government has been surprisingly candid. Politburo member Khalid Hammami wrote in 1984 that "Syria has abandoned its progressive socioeconomic policy" and stated that the "ruling quarters are suspicious and fearful of the masses" and curtail democratic freedoms. SCP deputy secretary general Yusuf Faysal has excoriated the "parasitic and bureaucratic bourgeoisie" in the Syrian government. However, the SCP is careful to limit its criticism to lower level Syrian politicians and more often acts as a silent partner to the Baath Party in Syrian politics.
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