March 1949 Syrian coup d'état

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March 1949 Syrian coup d'état
Part of the Cold War
Date 29 March 1949
Location Syria Syria
Result Overthrow of Shukri al-Quwatli
Syria Syrian government

Syria Syrian Armed Forces coup plotters Supported by:

 United States
Commanders and leaders
Shukri al-Quwatli
President of Syria
Husni al-Za'im
Army chief of staff
Adib Shishakli
Sami al-Hinnawi

The March 1949 Syrian coup d'état was a bloodless coup d'état that took place on March 29 and was the first military coup in the history of Syria. It was led by the Syrian Army chief of staff at the time, Husni al-Za'im. President of Syria, Shukri al-Quwatli, was briefly imprisoned, but then released into exile in Egypt. al-Za'im also imprisoned many political leaders, such as Munir al-Ajlani, whom he accused of conspiring to overthrow the republic.

The coup was carried out with the discreet backing of the American government and especially the newly formed Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), possibly assisted by the Syrian Social Nationalist Party, although al-Za'im himself is not known to have been a member. According to Joseph Massad, a professor of Modern Arab Politics and Intellectual History at Columbia University, the coup was sponsored by the CIA,[1] a conclusion in agreement with other historians such as Prof. Douglas Little, and declassified records.[2] The coup is also described by author Irene Gendzier, who states that "CIA agents Miles Copeland and Stephen Meade . . . were directly involved in the coup."[3] An overarching US policy objective in Syria at the time was allowing the construction of the Trans-Arabian Pipeline, which the democratically elected government of Syria had blocked. The "Tapline" project was immediately ratified following the coup.[2]

Among the officers that assisted al-Za'im's takeover was Adib al-Shishakli and Sami al-Hinnawi, both of whom would later also become military leaders of the country.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ The struggle for Syria The Syrian people are being sacrificed at the altar of US imperialism, says author.,
  2. ^ a b 1949-1958, Syria: Early Experiments in Cover Action, Douglas Little, Professor, Department of History, Clark University
  3. ^ Gendzier, Irene L. (1997). Notes from the Minefield: United States Intervention in Lebanon and the Middle East, 1945–1958. Columbia University Press. p. 98. 
  4. ^ Sami Moubayed Keeping an eye on Syria: March 29, 1949 March 29, 2009