Democratic Party of the Arab Socialist Union
The Democratic Party of the Arab Socialist Union was founded on July 18th, 1964 by gathering a number of unionist forces whose main goal was to resist the separation and reestablish the Union with Egypt (United Arab Republic).
The first conference was held in Beirut and Nihad Al Qasim was elected as the first General Secretary.
The party went through many internal struggles which led to the exiting of groups, the defection of some of its leaders, the formation of their own frameworks. Many of the party’s members were targets of arrest campaigns but the party remained steadfast and fresh.
The party’s ideals were intellectual which were led by the general secretary over three decades of leadership and its historic leader, the late Dr. Jamal Al Atassi. He was known for his experience in criticizing the Nasiriya in power with courage and awareness which made him independent and not following or recreating his ideas and rhetoric. He led the Syrian opposition (National Democratic Party) which was established in 1979 and joined 5 leftist nationalist parties. He led them for more than two decades.
The party continued to lead the internal opposition even after the passing of Dr. Jamal Al Atassi, but this did not prevent the appearance of conflicts between the part and the National Democratic Party which emerged to the surface with the formation of the “Damascus Declaration” in 2005.
The tougher experience for the party was that of entering the “National Progressive Front” with the beginning of the Hafez Al Assad era. This would not hold up and was forced to transition from public to private and this led the party to become defunct. This happened due to resistance against Article 8 of the constitution which gave the Baath Party singular rule over the government and society. This is what laid the groundwork for tyranny and what the future of Syria and the family run regime would be based upon.
The party still has a presence and covers all the Syrian governorates. Its power base is in the Suburbs of Damascus and the capitol itself. During the last conference that was attended by its leader, the late Dr. Jamal Al Atassi, added the word “Democratic” was added to the party’s name making it different than the party on the regime’s front. He also took structural and infrastructural development to the next level. In the last conference he attended it was decided that any General Secretary could not be elected for more than two consecutive terms to prevent the propensity of individuals, to increase democracy, and bring in new blood. During this conference the party decided to adopt the principle of operating in public taking on any any consequences that would result from its presence.
In light of these politics and positions over three years (2003, 2004, 2005) large rallies were held in remembrance of the founding of the party in the Douma stadium. This was as eye-catching at the time and revealed the party’s strength and popularity among the people.
The party was one of the first to release statements and form positions on the Syrian revolution of March 2011 and many of its members were the first activists in the ranks of the revolution. This was especially apparent in Damascus Suburbs, Daraa, Sweida, Al Raqqa, and Aleppo. Dr. Hakim Wahbi is the most well-known of the party’s martyrs who has been nicknamed “The Wise
One of the Revolution”.
The party collaborated to form a national coordinating body in July 2011 and participated in a majority of the dialogues and conferences outside Syria. This led to the exit of a large group of members, including leaders from their traditional leadership roles who remained in the party, but on served on an Executive Committee which is distinguished from the traditional leadership structure known as a political office. This falls on the backdrop of the position taken about the revolution and the speech of the Executive Committee and its role in the revolution.
From the beginning the party was one of the powers that the National Coalition for Revolutionary and Opposition Forces was formed from and actively participated in the various structures.
The party is distinguished by its various members inside Syria. Until now, the party has refused to reveal the names of its Executive Committee which is led by Mr. Mohamad Flaytani from the city of Douma. The party is represented by Mr. Qasem Al Khatib in the Syrian Coalition.
The party adopts the Syrian Coalition’s positions and works according to them with other and also adopts establishing a democratic system which is civilian, deliberative, and representative. It adopts the principles of social justice and pan-Arab ideas are a major part of their approach and thinking which is not absent from their rhetoric.