United Arab Republic: Wikis


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الجمهورية العربية المتحدة
Al-Gumhuriyah al-Arabiyah al-Muttahidah / Al-Jumhuriyah al-Arabiyah al-Muttahidah),
United Arab Republic


1958–1961 (1971)

Flag Coat of arms
Oh My Weapon[1]
Capital Cairo
Language(s) Arabic
Religion Islam (official)
Government Confederation
 - 1958–1970 Gamal Abdel Nasser
Historical era Cold War
 - Established February 22, 1958
 - Secession of Syria September 28, 1961
 - Renamed to Egypt 1971
 - 1961 1,166,049 km2 (450,214 sq mi)
 - 1961 est. 32,203,000 
     Density 27.6 /km2  (71.5 /sq mi)
Currency United Arab Republic pound
Calling code +20

The United Arab Republic (Arabic: الجمهورية العربية المتحدة‎ Egyptian pronunciation Al-Gumhuriyah al-Arabiyah al-Muttahidah, international Arabic pronunciation Al-Jumhuriyah al-Arabiyah al-Muttahidah), often abbreviated as the U.A.R., was a union between Egypt and Syria. The union began in 1958 and existed until 1961 when Syria seceded from the union. Egypt continued to be known officially as the "United Arab Republic" until 1971. The President was Gamal Abdel Nasser. During most of its existence (1958-1961) it was a member of the United Arab States, a confederation with North Yemen.

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Beginning in 1957, Syria was close to a communist takeover of political power; it had a highly organized Communist Party and the army's chief of staff, Afif Bizri, was a Communist sympathizer. Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser told a Syrian delegation, including President Shukri al-Quwatli and Prime Minister Khaled al-Azem, that they needed to rid their government of Communists, but the delegation countered and warned him that only total union with Egypt would end the "Communist threat." According to Abdel Latif Boghdadi, Nasser resisted a total union with Syria, favoring instead a federal union. However, Nasser was "more afraid of a Communist takeover" and agreed on a total merger. The increasing strength of the Syrian Communist Party, under the leadership of Khalid Bakdash, worried the ruling Ba'ath Party, which was also suffering from an internal crisis from which prominent members were anxious to find an escape. Syria had a democratic government since the overthrow of Adib al-Shishakli's military regime in 1954, and the popular pressure for Arab unity was reflected in the composition of parliament.

When Bizri led a second Syrian delegation composed of military officers on January 11, 1958, and personally discouraged Syro-Egyptian unity, Nasser opted for total merge. Only Syrian advocates of unity, including Salah al-Din Bitar and Akram al-Hawrani had prior knowledge of the delegation; Quwatli and Azem were notified a day later and considered it tantamount to a "military coup."[2][3] Established on February 1, 1958, as a first step towards a pan-Arab state, the UAR was created when a group of political and military leaders in Syria proposed a merger of the two states to Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Pan-Arab sentiment was very strong in Syria, and Nasser was a popular hero-figure throughout the Arab World following the Suez War of 1956. There was thus considerable popular support in Syria for union with Nasser's Egypt. The protocols were signed by leading Egyptian and Syrian officials, although Azem did so reluctantly.[4] Nasser became the republic's president and very soon carried out a crackdown against the Syrian Communists and opponents of the union which included dismissing Bizri and Azem from their post.[2][5]

Nasser signing unity pact with Syrian president Shukri al-Quwatli, forming the United Arab Republic, February 1958

Nasser established a new provisional constitution proclaiming a 600-member National Assembly (400 from Egypt and 200 from Syria) and the disbanding of all political parties, including the Ba'ath. Nasser gave each of the provinces two vice-presidents, assigning Boghdadi and Abdel Hakim Amer to Egypt and Sabri al-Assali and Akram al-Hawrani—a Ba'ath leader—to Syria. A new federal constitution was adopted. [6]

In neighboring Lebanon, president Camille Chamoun, an opponent of Nasser, viewed the creation of the UAR with worry. Pro-Nasser factions in the country, mostly comprising Muslims and Druze, began clashing with the Maronite population who generally supported Chamoun, culminating in a civil war by May 1958. The former favored merging with the UAR, while the latter feared the new country as a satellite of Communism. Although Nasser did not intend to covet Lebanon, seeing it as a special case,[7] he felt obliged to back his supporters through giving Abdel Hamid Sarraj the task of sending them money, light arms, and training officers.[8] On July 14 Iraqi army officers staged a military coup against the kingdom of Iraq—which had just previously united with Jordan to form the rival Arab Federation. Nasser declared his recognition of the new government and stated that "any attack on Iraq was tantamount to an attack on the UAR." The next day US marines and British special forces landed in Lebanon and Jordan, respectively, to protect the two countries from falling to pro-Nasser forces as well. To Nasser, the revolution in Iraq left the road for Arab nationalism unblocked.[9] Although most members of the Iraqi Revolutionary Command Council (RCC) favored joining Iraq with the UAR, the new president Abdel Karim Qasim disagreed. Said K. Aburish states reasons for this could have included Nasser's refusal to cooperate with and encourage the Iraqi Free Officers a year before the coup or Qasim viewed Nasser as a threat to his supremacy as leader of Iraq.[10]

Later in July, the US convinced Chamoun not to seek a second term and this allowed for Fuad Chehab to be elected Lebanon's new president. Nasser and Chehab met at the Lebanese-Syrian border and the former explained to Chehab that he never wanted unity with Lebanon, but only that the country not be used as a base against the UAR. Resulting from this meeting was the end of the crisis in Lebanon, with Nasser ceasing to supply his partisans and the US setting a deadline for withdrawing from the area.[11] In the fall of 1958, Nasser formed a tripartite committee, consisting of Zakaria Mohieddine, al-Hawrani, and Bitar to oversee developments in Syria. By moving the latter two, who were Ba'athists, to Cairo he neutralized important political figures who had their own ideas about how Syria should be run within the UAR. He put Syria under Sarraj, who effectively reduced that province into a police state by imprisoning and exiling Communists—including party leader Khalid Bakdash—and landholders who objected to the introduction of Egyptian agricultural reform in Syria. In December 1959, aware that things were not working in Syria, Nasser appointed Amer as governor-general alongside Sarraj. Syria's leaders reacted with opposition to the appointment; two Ba'athist ministers resigned from the cabinet and the Ba'ath party founder Michel Aflaq resigned from the central government, followed by al-Hawrani and Bitar. Nasser later met with the opposition leaders and in a heated conversation exclaimed that he was the elected president of the UAR and those who didn't accept his authority could "walk away."[12]

In Syria, opposition to union with Egypt mounted; Syrian army officers resented being subordinated to Egyptian officers, Syrian Bedouin tribes received money from Saudi Arabia to prevent them from becoming loyal to Nasser, Egyptian-style land reform was resented for damaging Syrian agriculture, the Communist began to gain influence, and the intellectuals of the Ba'ath who supported union rejected the single-party system. Nasser was not fully able to address problems in Syria because they were new to him and instead of appointing Syrians to run Syria, he handed this task to Amer.[13] In Egypt, the situation was more positive, with a GNP growth of 4.5 percent and a rapid growth of industry. In 1960, he nationalized the Egyptian press, reducing it to a personal mouthpiece.[14]

The UAR collapsed in 1961 after a coup d'état in Syria brought a secessionist group to power. The separation was deeply contested in Syria, and a bitter political struggle reflected in popular commotion and street confrontations ensued until the Ba'ath Party, Nasserists and other pro-union elements took power in 1963. The union, however, was not re-established. Egypt, now alone in the United Arab Republic, continued to use the name until 1971 after Nasser's death.


The union bound the two nations together into a united state, and, following his February 1958 nomination to the position, under the presidency of Nasser. The Republic was a unitary state, and the pre-eminence of Nasser together with Egypt's demographic and political dominance meant that it was effectively under Egyptian control. Egyptian military and technical advisors poured into Syria, with the Syrian military, police and bureaucracy coming under Egyptian control, a situation that would lead to considerable resentment. The ban on political parties other than Nasser's Arab Socialist Union was extended to Syria, and the Ba'ath Party and Arab Nationalist Movement in Syria both dissolved themselves into the ruling party. Resisting political elements were dealt with ruthlessly: after Khalid Bakdash's proposals of December 1958 for a looser federation, the Syrian Communist Party was brutally repressed, as were Islamist tendencies.

Ironically, the new nation found itself supported by the very force some of its proponents had feared. The Soviet Union, aiming to garner Cold War allies, quickly began selling weapons to the fledgling republic, a practice it would continue even after the UAR collapsed.

The UAR adopted a flag based on the flag of Egypt but with two stars to represent the two parts. This continues to be the flag of Syria. In 1963, Iraq adopted a flag that was similar but with three stars, representing the hope that Iraq would join the UAR. The flag of Sudan is also based on horizontal red, white and black.


If ranked today, the United Arab Republic would be the 25th largest nation on the planet (Egypt being the 30th and Syria being the 88th) It was comparable in size to South Africa (then known as the Union of South Africa), twice the size of France, and was more than half the size of the US state of Alaska.

Following the dissipation of the All-Palestine Government, the United Arab Republic further exerted control over the Gaza strip, until the Six day war.

Nevertheless, due to the aridity of Egypt's climate, population centres there are concentrated along the narrow Nile Valley and Delta, meaning that approximately 99% of the population of Egypt uses only about 5.5% of the total land area.[15]

Egypt is bordered by Libya to the west, Sudan to the south, and by the Gaza Strip and Israel to the east. Egypt's important role in geopolitics stems from its strategic position: a transcontinental nation, it possesses a land bridge (the Isthmus of Suez) between Africa and Asia, which in turn is traversed by a navigable waterway (the Suez Canal) that connects the Mediterranean Sea with the Indian Ocean via the Red Sea.

Apart from the Nile Valley, the majority of Egypt's landscape is a sandy desert. The winds blowing can create sand dunes more than 100 feet (30 m) high. Egypt includes parts of the Sahara Desert and of the Libyan Desert. These deserts were referred to as the "red land" in ancient Egypt, and they protected the Kingdom of the Pharaohs from western threats.

Towns and cities include Alexandria, one of the greatest ancient cities, Aswan, Asyut, Cairo, the modern Egyptian capital, El-Mahalla El-Kubra, Giza, the site of the Pyramid of Khufu, Hurghada, Luxor, Kom Ombo, Port Safaga, Port Said, Sharm el Sheikh, Suez, where the Suez Canal is located, Zagazig, and Al-Minya. Oases include Bahariya, el Dakhla, Farafra, el Kharga and Siwa. Protectorates include Ras Mohamed National Park, Zaranik Protectorate and Siwa. See Egyptian Protectorates for more information.

Syria consists mostly of arid plateau, although the north west part of the country bordering the Mediterranean is fairly green. The north east of the country "Al Jazira" and the South "Hawran" are important agricultural areas. The Euphrates, Syria's most important river, crosses the country in the east.

Syria is considered to be one of the fifteen states that comprise the so-called "Cradle of Civilization".

Major cities include the capital Damascus in the south west, Aleppo in the north, and Hims. Most of the other important cities are located along the coast line (see List of cities in Syria).

The climate in Syria is dry and hot, and winters are mild. Because of the country's elevation, snowfall does occasionally occur during winter. Petroleum in commercial quantities was first discovered in the north east in 1956. The most important oil fields are those of Suwaydiyah, Qaratshui, Rumayian, and Tayyem, near Dayr az–Zawr. The fields are a natural extension of the Iraqi fields of Mosul and Kirkuk. Petroleum became Syria's leading natural resource and chief export after 1974. Natural gas was discovered at the field of Jbessa in 1940.

Foreign relations

The flag of Iraq (1963–1991) purposely looked similar to the UAR's flag because Iraq was interested in officially joining the union as the third state (hence the third star).
The flag of the former Yemen Arab Republic also looked like the UAR's flag because of North Yemen's support of the UAR and being part of the United Arab States (1958–1961).

The most supportive Arab state of the UAR was Iraq. Iraq sought to join the union between 1960 and 1961, and then reunite the union after 1963 with the proposal of Egypt, Iraq, and Syria reforming the UAR. A new flag was proposed, three stars symbolizing the three states constituting the union. However, the union was not to be. Yet Iraq continued to use the three-star flag and later adopted it as the national flag of Iraq The three star flag remained Iraq's national flag until 1991.

The union was interpreted as a major threat to Jordan. Syria was seen as a source of instigation and shelter for Jordanian plotters against King Hussein. Egypt's own status as a state hostile to Western involvement in the region (and thus to the close relationship between the British, in particular, and the Jordanian and Iraqi monarchies) added to the pressure. Hussein’s response was to propose to Faisal II of Iraq a Jordanian-Iraqi union to counter the UAR, which was formed on February 14, 1958. The agreement was to form a unified military command between the two states, with a unified military budget; 80% of which was to be provided by Iraq and the remaining 20% by Jordan. Troops from both countries were exchanged in the arrangement.

In early July 1958, plots against the governments of King Hussein in Jordan and King Faisal in Iraq were uncovered. One of the plotters in Jordan revealed the involvement of Egyptian secret agents, and that plot was abandoned. Then, on July 14, King Faisal, the Crown Prince Abdul Illah, and other members of the ruling Hashemite family were shot. Iraqi prime minister Nuri as-Said was also shot as he attempted to escape. It is unlikely that Egypt or the UAR was actively involved in the coup in Iraq. However, upon revelation of the coup, the UAR announced its support of the plotters in Iraq, recognized the new regime, and closed its border with Jordan. Syrian troops along the border were put on alert.

These actions put a good deal of pressure on King Hussein in Jordan. In 1962, he said of UAR that it had "ambitions which, I believe, at that time meant nothing less than the domination of the Arab world.” Jordan's trade routes had been cut off. Iraq had been his main supplier of oil. Hussein asked for U.S. aid in establishing trade routes through Israel, which the Americans were able to gain permission to do.

The situation continued to deteriorate in Jordan as Damascus Radio issued broadcasts calling upon the Jordanian people to rise against the "Hashemite tyranny". Hussein was finally forced to turn to his former ally Great Britain for help. The trio of Israeli, British, and American support of the regime in Jordan played a large role in preventing conflict between Jordan and the UAR.

See also


  1. ^ Egypt 1960–1979 - nationalanthems.info
  2. ^ a b Aburish 2004, pp. 150-151
  3. ^ Podeh 1999, pp. 43
  4. ^ Podeh 1999, pp. 49
  5. ^ Podeh 1999, pp. 44-45
  6. ^ Aburish 2004, pp. 162-163
  7. ^ Aburish 2004, p. 164
  8. ^ Aburish 2004, p. 166
  9. ^ Aburish 2004, pp. 169-170
  10. ^ Aburish 2004, p. 172
  11. ^ Aburish 2004, p. 173
  12. ^ Aburish 2004, pp. 176-178
  13. ^ Aburish 2004, p. 185
  14. ^ Aburish 2004, pp. 189-191
  15. ^ Hamza, Waleed. Land use and Coastal Management in the Third Countries: Egypt as a case. Accessed= 2007-06-10.


  • Aburish, Said K. (2004), Nasser, the Last Arab, New York: St. Martin's Press, pp. 151, ISBN 0-312-28683 
  • Podeh, Elie (1999), The Decline of Arab Unity: The Rise And Fall of the United Arab Republic, Sussex Academic Press, ISBN 1845191463 

External links


Simple English

The United Arab Republic was a country formed in 1957 when Egypt and Syria joined together. When they separated in 1961, Egypt kept the name of United Arab Republic until 1971 when the official name of the country was changed to Arab Republic of Egypt.


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