The Full Wiki

Adib al-Shishakli: Wikis


Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.


(Redirected to Adib Shishakli article)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Adib Shishakli
أديب الشيشكلي

President of Syria (military Rule)
In office
July 11, 1953 – February 25, 1954
Preceded by Fawzi Selu (Military rule)
Succeeded by Hashim al-Atassi

In office
July 19, 1953 – March 1, 1954
Preceded by Fawzi Selu
Succeeded by Sabri al-Assali

Born 1909
Hama, Syria
Died September 27, 1964 (aged 55)
Ceres, Brazil
Political party SSNP
Spouse(s) Fatina al-Fanari
Religion Islam

Adib ibn Hasan Shishakli (Arabic: أديب بن حسن الشيشكلي‎), born 1909, in Hamah, Syria, assassinated September 27, 1964 in Ceres, Brazil, was a Syrian military leader and President of Syria (1953-54).



Born to a Syrian father and a Kurdish mother in the western town of Hama, Syria, it is also argued that his parents were Turkish oriented. Shishakli served with the French Army during the mandate era. He studied at the Military Academy of Damascus (which later was relocated to Homs) and became an early member of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party (SSNP) of Antun Saadeh, promoting the concept of a Greater Syria. His brother Salah was also a prominent member of the SSNP. After independence, Shishakli fought in a volunteer Arab army, known as the Army of Deliverance, against the Zionist militias in the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Political/military career

Shishakli in military uniform

The Arab defeat in that war was a motivating factor for the military coup d'état of Husni al-Za'im which had taken place soon after in 1949, shattering Syria's weak parliamentary system. Only months after al-Za'im's takeover, the weak ruler was overthrown by a group of officers connected to the SSNP, including Shishakli and Colonel Sami al-Hinnawi, who led the new military junta. Za'im had betrayed the SSNP leader Antun Saadeh, giving him to Lebanese authorities where he was tried and executed for wanting to destroy the modern state of Lebanon. An infuriated Shishakli co-launched the coup of 1949 to revenge Saadeh's killing, and reportedly ripped off Za'im's bloodstained shirt and took it to Saadeh's widow, who was still in Syria, telling her: "We have avenged his murder!"

Shishakli worked with Sami al-Hinnawi, the new de facto ruler of Syria who refused to assume power on his own and restored Syria's parliamentary system. Hinnawi became chief-of-staff of the Syrian Army and the veteran nationalist Hashem al-Atassi, who had been president in the 1930s, to become prime minister, and then president of Syria. Atassi wanted to create union with Hashemite Iraq, something which Shishakli greatly opposed, claiming that Hinnawi was the drive behind pro-Hashemite sentiment in Syria.

Seizing power

In December 1949, Shishakli launched another coup, the third in 1949, arresting Hinnawi to break Hashemite influence in Syria, but keeping Atassi at his post. He then ordered the assassination of Colonel Mohammad Nasser, the Air Force Commander, because he threatened Shishakli's popularity in the Syrian Army. All of this greatly weakened the pro-union elements in Syria but they continued to try working for union through the cabinets of Prime Minister Nazim al-Kudsi. Shishakli conditioned that all governments must include his right-hand-man Fawzi Selu as minister of defense, to curb Hashemite influence in the Syrian government. When Prime Minister Maarouf al-Dawalibi, a pro-Iraq politician from Aleppo, refused, Shishakli responded on November 28, 1951. He arrested Dawalibi and his entire cabinet, in addition to all pro-Iraq politicians in Syria, including the leaders of the People's Party, Nazim al-Kudsi and Rushdi al-Kikhya. In protest, Atassi resigned from office and moved into the opposition. Pleased to get rid of this stubborn nationalist, who rejected officer intervention in political affairs, Shishakli made his comrade Selu the Chief-of-Staff of the Army, the Prime Minister, the Minister of Defense, and the Head of State. But in effect, Selu was nothing but a figurehead. Real powers lay in the hands of Adib al-Shishakli.

Shishakli in power

Shishakli then dissolved all political parties and banned many newspapers, in a return to military rule. Among those to suffer persecution under his rule were the National Party of Damascus, the People's Party of Aleppo, the Communist Party, the Baath Party, and the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood. He also outlawed all newspapers that were not pro-Shishakli, and banished the Baath leaders Akram al-Hawrani, Michel Aflaq, and Salah al-Bitar to Lebanon, where they then actively worked against his regime. He was a skilled public speaker, however, and relied greatly on the radio to transmit his speeches to every-day Syrians. In August 1952 he established an official government party, the Arab Liberation Movement, but it was boycotted by powerful representatives of the civilian political society, such as Hashim al-Atassi. The party was progressive, accepting women among its ranks and calling for a limited degree of socialism. Some said that he viewed himself as "an Arab Caesar." In mid-1953 Shishakli staged a referendum to elect himself President, but he was by now facing mounting dissent.

Foreign relations

As leader of Syria, Shishakli sought good relations with Western countries, and maintained Syria's uncompromising stance towards Israel. Syrian relations with the Hashemite monarchies of Jordan and Iraq were poor during his presidency, but he also looked with distrust at the rapid spread of Nasserism. Many believe that Nasser's Free Officer Revolution of 1952 in Egypt had been modeled after Shishakli's own coups of 1949 and 1951. Shishakli's relations were strong, however, with King Abdul-Aziz of Saudi Arabia, his son King Saud, and King Talal of Jordan. Shishakli greatly liked King Talal, saying that he had no ambitions in Syria, unlike his father King Abdullah I or his son, King Hussein. Despite this, and in contrast with his pro-Western outlook and some Kurdish background, Shishakli recognized the desires of Syria's Arab majority, and accordingly adopted a policy of pan-Arabism. He clashed frequently with the independent-minded Druze minority on the Jabal Druze mountain, accusing them of wanting to topple his regime using funds from Jordan, and in 1954 resorted to shelling Druze strongholds to put down resistance to his rule.

His relations with both Britain and the US ran hot and cold. Britain courted Shishakli during the early period of his rule in the hope that Syria would join plans for a British-led Middle East Defense Organization. The United States offered Shishakli considerable sums of money to settle Palestinian refugees in Syria and turn them into Syrians. Shishakli, although tempted by these offers of Western arms and money, did not take them. The Palestinian situation had soured Syrians on relations with the West. Syria wanted revenge rather than to accept defeat and repair Syria's damaged relations with the West and make peace with Israel.[1]


Growing discontent eventually led to another coup, in which Shishakli was overthrown in February 1954. The plotters included members of the Syrian Communist Party, Druze officers, Baath Party members, and possibly had Iraqi backing. He had also arrested a lot of active officers in the Syrian Army, including the rising young Adnan al-Malki, also a prominent Baathist. Leading the anti-Shishakli movement were former President Atassi and the veteran Druze leader Sultan al-Atrash. The largest anti-Shishakli conference had been held in Atassi's home in Homs. Shishakli had responded by arresting Atassi and Atrash's sons, Adnan and Mansur (both of whom were ranking politicians in Syria).

When the insurgency reached its peak, Shishakli backed down, refusing to drag Syria into civil war. He fled to Lebanon, but when the Druze leader Kamal Jumblat threatened to have him killed, he fled to Brazil. Prior to the union between Syria and Egypt in 1958, Shishakli toyed with the idea of returning to Syria to launch a coup d'état, using funds - ironically - provided by Iraq. The coup was foiled by Syrian intelligence and Shishakli was sentenced to death in absentia, although he never attended its hearings.

On September 27, 1964, Shishakli was assassinated in Brazil by Nawaf Ghazaleh, a Syrian Druze who sought revenge for the bombardments of Jabal Druze.


In the 1990s, he was depicted on screen for the first time in a TV series, played by the Syrian actor Usama al-Roumani.

Sources and further reading

Preceded by
Husni al-Za'im
President of Syria
Succeeded by
Hashim al-Atassi


Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address