Arab Snorism is the coloquial term used outside Arab World for a series of different Pan-Arab nationalist ideologies which were influenced by SNOR from Russia.
These ideologies developed independently from each other during the 20th century as reforming projects and as an answer to Secular Pan-Arabism (Nasserism). Like real SNOR, Arab snorist ideologies were ardently nationalist and ethnically based, relatively confessional, sect-specific, and anti-communist, defended a centralized state headed by a strong leader, interventive on economics and portrayed their countries as victims from outside powers (usually European colonial powers or economically important minorities).
If SNOR from Russia was Pan-Slavist Arab Snorism was Pan-Arabist. Their ideal of Pan-Arabism is based on superiority of Arab Nation over the others and also supremacy of a religious faith over the others. Arab Snorism is not a unified political and religious movement. Consequently Arab snorists in Iraaq are Sunni while in Syria they are Orthodox Christians, for example.
The Hashemite received Iraaq from the FK in 1921 as they weren’t able to control and pacify the country. Under King Faisal I and his prime minister for Iraaq Ibrahim bin Hussayn the country was brutally pacified and established economic Arab Sunni supremacy over the Shiite majority of the population by giving them oil concessions.
King Faisal I wished to unify all Hashemite ruled countries (Hijaaz, Iraaq, Syria and Beihan in the Yemens) in a new entity called the Hashemite Caliphate.
After Faisal I death the new king Ghazi I understood that the Hijaaz wasn’t powerful enough to control Iraaq in case of widespread rebellion as it wasn’t able to avoid the overthrow of Hashemite rule over Syria (1932) even if the Sunni leaders were loyal to the Hashemite thanks to oil and support against the Shiite majority. Beside these ones only the Hashemite themselves profited from oil revenues leaving the ordinary Iraaqis as poor.
Ghazi I met Snorism directly during his state visit to Russia in 1935. The young king was tremendously impressed by the achievements of the SNOR (industrialization, electrification, educational system, etc). Most of all was surprised by the masses’ support to the regime. Ghazi I understood that ordinary people support was as much important as the wealthier’s support and for that the poorer standard of living should increase. Otherwise oppression over the poor would be an easy background for communism supporting and rebellion.
Ghazi I together with several other supporters worked hard to establish their analogy of Russian political system. Politically was a tremendous revolution for Iraaq which brought the country into political modernity. A constitution was written replacing the traditional absolute monarchy system for a constitutional monarchy on which the king’s and cabinet powers were perfectly defined. From now on all political life was made according to law and not simply according the king’s will (although Constitution gave them enlarged powers). A single political party composed by iraaqi born politicians, the Hizb al-Ba’ath (Renascence Party) was instituted as a copy from the SNOR and the ‘Khader al-Majlis (Green Council) was a White Council analogue body having Prime Minister General Sayyad Rashid Ali el-Keilany as its nominal leader. Other prominent members were Saib Shawkat, minister of education and the father of alphabetization program, and Yunis al-Sabawi, minister of economy. Al-Sabawi is known for translating to Arabic most of Kolchak’s and Danilevsky’s writings which became an influence over further Arab snorist movements after receiving interpretation on an arab point of view.
On economy oil revenues were finally totally profited by Iraaq. Local leaders’ oil concessions were gathered in large monopolies. Profits were used for widespread public works and to create one of the first state educational systems which promoted alphabetization among Arab countries. Such was totally dominated by official new political point of view.
Modern propaganda was brought to Iraaq by the use of street posters, radio and cinema. Propaganda showed the “progressist work” ruling party was doing. Children were sent to youngsters’ political organizations controlled by the party, the al-Futuwwa. Propaganda spread the idea to Iraaqis that they were part of the Arab Nation so as they weren’t Arabs under a foreign dynasty rule (the Hashemite) but Arabs under an Arab dynasty rule. More than iraaqi or hijaazi or something else they all belonged to a much larger common nation.
On religious level the al-Baath played a safe distance from religion although it was openly confessional. State wasn’t separate from religion but both kept a certain safe distance by not interfering too much on each other’s affairs. Al-Ba’ath was Arab Sunni sect-specific and the alliance between government (leaded by a Sunni royal house) and religious was made to keep the Shiite majority out of power. Being al-Ba’ath ideology influenced by another Christian one (SNOR from Russia) several Sunni clerics raised their voices against what they considered as a Christian intrusion in Muslim world. These ones were often arrested and some even executed.
Externally al-Ba’ath rule in Iraaq was openly against foreign influences, especially from the FK. Until then the Hashemite and FK were close allies but with Ghazi I relations became often rather hostile. Beside the Hashemite ruled countries Iraaq started to make territorial claims over FK footholds in the Middle East which they considered as “part of historical Iraaq” and they kept and modernized the ideal of creating the “Hashemite Caliphate” which should include Iraaq proper, Syria, Beihan the Hijaaz, the satrapy of Khuzestan in Persia and the south bank of the Arabian Gulf became aimed by increasingly militaristic regime.
In 1936 Iraaq supported a Sunni rebellion in eastern Syria hoping to retake power over the country. In a short conflict on which was implied modern weaponry (such as tanks, machine guns, airplanes and dirigibles) Iraaq and the rebels weren’t able to win causing since then a certain animosity which survived to our days. Such failure delayed the proclamation of the Caliphate.
Propaganda portrayed the Hashemite royal house as keepers of Muslim identity based on the idea this royal house could trace their origins to Prophet Muhammad and always had been the keepers of the Holy Cities. Such was supposed to spread the idea Hashemite had the divine right to exert supremacy and superiority all over other states in the region, based on ancient ideals of the glories of the Islamic past, the ideal of the Ummah and the universality of Koran’s message.
On culture archeology was promoted so as Babylon was partially rebuilt (with not much historic rigor) for state official celebrations. Several official buildings and mosques were built, or at least planned, under “Vissarionovist” or National Realism style mixed with Islamic architectural styles. Non-Arabic minorities suffered strong campaigns of arabization while non-Muslim minorities were targets for Sunni islamicization.
Ghazi I died on an aircraft crash on the 4th April 1939 leaving the throne to his four years old son Faisal. The Green Council promptly chosen General el-Keilany as regent (on the style of the Supreme Leader of the Russian People) but his regency only lasted eleven days as former prime minister Ibrahim bin Hussayn triggered a coup on which the entire ruling body and military leaders were captured and executed on a single day. From then on snorist supporters were persecuted, reforms were reverted and the pan-arabist ideal of the Hashemite Caliphate was totally abandoned. Few surviving local snorist leaders were able to keep guerrilla until they finally were caught and executed by mid-1940’s.
Antun Saadeh (1904-1951) and Mishil Aflaq (1910-1989), two greek orthodox arabs, founded Levantine National Front (Jabha ash-Sham al-Watani) in 1932 following the deposition of the local Hashemite rulership. Saadeh was the man of action and viewable leader while Aflaq was the philosopher, the man in the shadow who created the ideology. It was a nationalist party of greek orthodox background which progressively got influenced by both Snorism and Pan-Arabism. Over the years the party grew, getting more representatives at national parliament and becoming an important political force which got a strong support from the significant greek orthodox population. Also created a paramilitary group, the Vanguard (al-Tali’a) which supposedly acted for Christian protection but in fact acted for Muslim intimidation. Due to the rebellion of 1936 in eastern Syria and iraaqi interference they developed a stronger animosity against Muslim arabs.
On the 30th March 1949 a coup made by greek orthodox militaries deposed President Shukri al-Kuwatli (a Sunni Muslim) while he was in Egypt. The new junta initially didn’t have a cohesive ideological background but soon adopted Saadeh’s nationalist rhetoric and Aflaq’s ideas.
Levantine National Front became the single party as all others were forbidden ending one of the few democratic regimes in the Middle East, members of the military junta and party’s leadership became the White Council-analogue National Council (al-Majlis al-Qawmy) and the Vanguard became the praetorian guard of the chosen National Leader (az-Za’im al-Watani) as Saadeh was titled. The Syrian Arab Republic was renamed Christian State of Greater Syria expressing the Christian nationalist rule.
Externally it received support from Greece (ruled by an orthodox pro-snorist junta) which aimed to increase its influence over the Near East. Saadeh’s primary external goals were the “liberation of Lebanese Maronites from Druze domination” and the creation of a large state which should include the whole Levant region (nowadays Syria, Lebanon, northeastern Egypt (in order to control the Suez Canal), Judea and western Bedouin Free State) considered by him as part of historical Syria. Ultimately Jerusalem should become the capital city of the new state.
The National Council was composed by Sadeeh, Aflaq, all the officers who made the 1949 coup and soon some men of trust such as some orthodox clerics and businessmen joined. Based on local snorist-like ideology Muslim saw their rights reduced politically, economically and even in their private life. Polygamy was abolished and as Muslim women had in average more kids than Christian ones law started to forbid Muslim women to have more than two kids in order to “control population in a country lacking of water and resources” according to official policies. In reality the Christian dominated rule was afraid of Muslim demographic growing. Bedouins were forced to settle while many towns and villages in eastern Syria (where population was mostly Muslim) received thousands of orthodox Christians. The larger businesses owned by Muslim were nationalized but soon they were given to trusted Christian businessmen and even to several members of National Council.
Soon the National Council became a cradle of all kind of conspiracies where many of its members took advantage from ideology and putted their own agenda above the state interests. Corruption grew fast and the ambitious public works were given just to those who were close to regime. Situation got so serious that Sadeeh himself, in a reunion in 1951, accused the members from National Council of corruption and for being destroying the work he started. Some of them felt threatened and three days later a commando invaded Saddeeh’s palace, deposed and executed him. Aflaq fled for exile in Greece.
Officially “Muslim tried a coup and martyred Sadeeh”. Such explanation excused further stronger persecutions against Muslim which caused protests from Arab Community and the League of Nations. Control was taken by formerly colonel and now self-promoted General Akram al-Hurani who was appointed by National Council as new National Leader while regime started to promote a strong cult of personality around Sadeeh to entertain the populace. By this time regime was taken by people just nominally arab snorists, without real ideology and who would use it to serve their own purposes. New coups followed. General Butrus Khalil Gubran deposed al-Hurani in 1953 but placed Faris al-Khoury, a civilian, as new National Leader hoping a civilian wouldn’t cause him much trouble while Gubran was the real power. But by 1954 Gubran deposed al-Khoury and took power personally as deposed National Leader was being incapable to face Muslim rebellion helped by Egyptian Nasser.
At this point Syria was submerged in economical crisis due to political instability, widespread corruption, and general unrest and for being ruled by a series of uninspired and incapable rulers. No neighboring countries really feared now the militaristic and expansionist rhetoric as it had now no practical end, just rhetorical. Syrian armed forces were too disorganized and too divided for military adventures.
Finally in 1955 Gubran was deposed in a bloodless coup by colonels tired of situation. They ended regime, restored democracy and called back a veteran of Syrian politics, former president Hashim al-Atassi as interim president. On first democratic elections since 1948 former president Shukri al-Kuwatli was re-elected and started approximation with Nasser which would lead later Syria to the first pan-arab state, the United Arab Republic.
The Phalange Party (Hizb-al-Kataeb) was founded in 1936 by Butrus al-Jumayyil (1905-1984), a Lebanese Maronite politician. It was a Christian Maronite nationalist and mildly Pan-Arabist movement inspired by Benito Mussolini and Roberto Tascón's Fascist and Phalangist movements, which during the 1940’s additionally came under the influence of the SNOR.
Like its analogue from Syria it created a paramilitary militia, which would go on to be heavily used for intimidation during elections. Whether or not these acts of intimidation were effective is still heavily debated by historians, with some arguing that Regardless of the effectiveness of any acts of intimidation, Phalange Party found itself growing whatever if those intimidation acts worked or not.
Despite its Pan-Arabism, the Phalange Party was among the nationalist Lebanese parties which in 1944 participated in protests against a possible union between Lebanon and Syria in Shukri al-Kuwatli’s proposed Levantine Arab Republic, afraid of total domination by Syrians led by a Muslim president (al-Kuwatli).
In 1956, the year of the Suez Crisis, Lebanese Prime Minister Kamil Nimr Sham’un (a Maronite) openly supported Nasser’s position on nationalizing the Canal. However, the following increase of prices caused by closing the Canal and further warfare between Egypt, France and FK caused unrest among common Lebanese. For al-Jumayyil, Sham'un's support of “communist Nasser’s war against Christian countries” was essentially treason against the Maronite community. Lebanese unrest was promptly exploited by al-Jumayyil, who found strong support among the Christian and Jewish bourgeoisie.
The following years were harsh for the Lebanese common people due to regional political instability caused by the growing of Nasserist ideals all over Middle East. Prime Minister Cham’un, being leader of a small country too close to Nasser’s United Arab Republic, was one of the first non-Muslim leaders to recognise the new government in Iraaq following the deposition of the Hashemite kingdom by General Abdul Karim Qassim, a Nasserist Pan-Arabist.
Such caused tensions between common Muslim (supporters of General Qassim) and common Maronites (against, as among them Nasserism was seen as a Muslim communist domination plot). In the turmoil, highly exploited by the Phalange, president Kamal Janboulad (a druze) was caught in the middle. In July 1958 several nationalist Maronite militaries deposed Cham’un and arrested the president.
Like in Syria several years before the installed junta adopted radical Christian Pan-Arabist rhetoric and adopted local arab snorist party as ideological background. Butrus al-Jumayyil was made regent of Lebanon while the junta became the National Union Council (Majlis al-Itihad al-Watani) and received support from pro-snorist Greece.
Al-Jumayyil revoked Lebanese recognition of the new Iraaqi regime. Based on the goals of his party, he established new policies such as plans for Maronite leadership not only over Lebanon but also over the entire Levant by the establishment of the Patriarchate of Greater Lebanon, a proposed state which would include the whole Syrian coastal area up to Turkish border in order to “liberate Syriac Christians from Muslim domination” as well as claimed territories south to the Suez Canal.
Knowing al-Jumayyil's intentions could provoke a military response from Nasser’s United Arab Republic, Judea invaded Lebanon in August in order to depose the military junta and return the country to normal. Judean intervention was effusively received by Lebanese Muslim and Druze, while many Maronites felt uncomfortable and Jews remained ambivalent. In late August, facing mass demonstrations and a Judean army of 14000 men Al-Jumayyil resigned and proclaimed the disestablishment of the National Union Council. Judeans withdrew in October 1958 after restoring Kamal Janboulad as president and the country returned to its normal order. As not all Maronites had necessarily supported the Phalangist regime, they managed to avoid persecution, but Al-Jumayyil was imprisoned and judged for treason. Convicted to death he later found his penalty commuted to life imprisonment.
Cham’un was not called back to office due to suspicions of his Nasserism and in order to promote Lebanese reconciliation. He was replaced by Fouad Shihab, a more moderate Maronite general who continued to deny recognition to Qassim’s regime in Iraaq. Thus ended the shortest and last arab snorist regime in an episode known as the Lebanese Crisis of 1958.
Arab Snorism today
Arab snorist parties still exist today in many arab countries and terrtories, whatever if they are legal or not. In Syria, Lebanon, Iraaq and Egypt arab snorists have regular parliamentary representation although always being small factions without real chance to get the political power.
In Egypt the most rightist wing of the Khedive Loyalist party is described as arab snorist. General Aziz Ali al-Masri (1878-1965) founded the Arab Liberation Party (Hizb at-Tahrir al-Arabyyia) during the 1930’s and defended the total Egyptian takeover of the Suez Canal among other nationalist goals under Sunni Muslim background and supremacy. Also defended (and still defends) the Khedive to became Caliph and a union of all Arab states with Egypt as centre of gravity in the proposed Allawiyya Caliphate. Such goal granted historical animosity from iraaqi snorists who found a rival for restoring the Caliphate.
During Nasser’s republican regime (1952-1961) it promoted actions against it aiming the restoration of the khediveship. Following the end of Nasser era the Arab Liberation Party merged with the new major right wing national party, the Khedive Loyalists.
In Syria the Levantine Brotherhood claims to be the successor on Saadeh’s and Aflaq’s ideals. Unifying the whole Levant region remains on their agenda. Lately it evolved mostly into an anti-immigration party since many Muslim iraaqis (running away from instability and wars) found refuge in politically stable and economically strong Syria. These iraaqis are often blamed for the increasing of criminality and Muslim radicalism.
In Lebanon the Phalange Party was once again legalized during the 1970’s after being dismantled in 1958. Nowadays it’s the less moderate of the moderate right wing parties. Still is dominated by al-Jumayyil family and gave Lebanon two prime ministers: Bashir Butrus al-Jumayyil (who was chosen for prime minister but was assassinated prior taking the office in 1982, some say he had connections with organized crime) and his brother Amine Butrus al-Jumayyil (between 1982 and 1988).
In Iraaq both present-day Iraaqi Front and National Renascence Party claim being successors from the original King Ghazi’s al-Baath. None of these maintain today any connection to the Hashemite so as dropped the ideal of a hereditary Caliphate in favor to a form of republican Caliphate. They have quite a similar agenda being ardently Arab Sunni nationalists and supremacist, militaristic and exploiting the safety issue so as being against the presence of peacekeeping forces of the Arab Community in Iraaq. Attempts of merger always failed due to their leaders’ ambitions.
Nowadays arab snorists aren’t so openly totalitarian as in the past. They keep in general their purposes and ideologies. By not having internationally cohesive ideology and often antagonist to each other (arab snorists from Syria claim Lebanon while Lebanese claim Syria, the rivalry between arab snorists from Iraaq and Egypt) Arab Snorism never grew as much as other Arab born ideologies such as Nasserism or more recently Islamic Democracy.
Arabs consider wrong and are against the term Arab Snorism. In fact Snorism is a particular kind of nationalism, particular to Russia and Slavic culture. As a political scientist once said: “It is all wrapped up in the ideologies of the New Rome, the Orthodox Church and a gargantuan vision of a Russian-Slavic dominated empire stretching to the four oceans and the idea of (Christian) salvation extended (and necessarily twisted) to this ideal polity”.
Arab Snorism was a generalist term coined by outside journalists to describe a series of similar but different pan-arabist ideologies of right wing tendencies and inspired by SNOR. Arabs themselves don’t have such generalist term distinguishing the Iraaqi, the Egyptian and the Syrian/Lebanese versions and calling them respectively al- Ba’ath (the Renascence), Harakat al-Khlaf (Caliphate Movement) or Wahda Arabiyya ash-Shamy (Levantine Arab Unity).
Nowadays western politologists tend to abandon Arab Snorism term in favor to another new one distancing pan-arab and pan-slavic nationalism from each other, the Right Wing or Rightist Pan-Arabism.