As-Sa'iqa

As-Sa'iqa

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As-Sa'iqa is a Palestinian
Palestinian people
The Palestinian people, also referred to as Palestinians or Palestinian Arabs , are an Arabic-speaking people with origins in Palestine. Despite various wars and exoduses, roughly one third of the world's Palestinian population continues to reside in the area encompassing the West Bank, the Gaza...

 Baathist political and military faction created and controlled by Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. It is the Palestinian branch of the Syrian Ba'th Party, and is a member of the broader PLO
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

 Palestine Liberation Organization
Palestine Liberation Organization
The Palestine Liberation Organization is a political and paramilitary organization which was created in 1964. It is recognized as the "sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people" by the United Nations and over 100 states with which it holds diplomatic relations, and has enjoyed...

, although it is presently not active in the organization.http://fas.org/man/crs/RS21235.pdf It's present Secretary-General is Farhan Abu Al-Hayja.

History of the Organization


As-Sa'iqa was formed as an organization by the Syrian Ba'th Party in September 1966, but first activated in December 1968, when Syria tried to build up an alternative to Yassir Arafat, then emerging with his Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 faction as the primary Palestinian fedayeen
Fedayeen
Fedayeen is a term used to describe several distinct militant groups and individuals in West Asia at different times in history. It is sometimes used colloquially to refer to suicide squads, especially those who are not bombers.-Overview:...

 leader and politicianhttp://middleeastreference.org.uk/palestiniangroups.html. As-Sa'iqa was initially the second-largest group within the PLO, after Fatah.

Al-Assad Takeover and Purge of as-Sa'iqa


As-Sa'iqa was also used in the Ba'thist power struggle then in play in Syria, by President Salah Jadid
Salah Jadid
Salah Jadid was a Syrian general and political figure in the Baath Party, and the country's de facto leader from 1966 until 1970.- Rise to power :...

 to counter the ambitions of Defence Minister Hafez al-Assad
Hafez al-Assad
Hafez ibn 'Ali ibn Sulayman al-Assad or more commonly Hafez al-Assad was the President of Syria for three decades. Assad's rule consolidated the power of the central government after decades of coups and counter-coups, such as Operation Wappen in 1957 conducted by the Eisenhower administration and...

. When al-Assad seized power in the November 1970 "Corrective Revolution
The Corrective Revolution
The Corrective Revolution is an expression used by some self-described revolutionary governments in the Arab World to describe an internal political or bureaucratic power struggle, and also to indicate continued adherence to the ideals of an earlier revolution despite major policy changes, or the...

", the organization was purged and its leadership replaced with al-Assad loyalists (although Jadid loyalists held on to the as-Sai'qa branch active in the Palestinian refugee camps in Jordan until mid-1971, when they were arrested).http://www.tkb.org/Group.jsp?groupID=150 As new Secretary-General (after Mahmud al-Ma'ayta, who had recently succeeded Yusuf Zu'ayyin), al-Assad chose Zuhayr Muhsin, a Palestinian Ba'thist who had come to Syria as a refugee from Jordan
Jordan
Jordan , officially the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan , Al-Mamlaka al-Urduniyya al-Hashemiyya) is a kingdom on the East Bank of the River Jordan. The country borders Saudi Arabia to the east and south-east, Iraq to the north-east, Syria to the north and the West Bank and Israel to the west, sharing...

. He was repeatedly promoted by Syria as a candidate for the post as Chairman of the PLO, to replace Arafat, but never gained support from other factions.

With and Against the PLO in Lebanon


The organization was, and is, utilized by Syria as a proxy force in the Palestinian movement. While this has prevented as-Sa'iqa from gaining widespread popularity among Palestinians, it became an important force in the Palestinian camps in Syria, as well as in Lebanon. During the Lebanese Civil War, Syria built the movement into one of the most important Palestinian fighting units, but also forced it to join in Syrian offensives against the PLO when relations between al-Assad and Arafat soured. This led to as-Sa'iqa's expulsion from the PLO in 1976, but it was readmitted in December the same year, after the situation had cooled down, and after Syria named this as a condition for further support for the PLO. The attacks on the PLO led to large-scale defections of Syrian-based Palestinians from the movement. As Saiqa was as well responsible of the Damour Massacre in 1976 and many other barbaric mass murders.http://web.archive.org/web/20050305044532/http://www.cedarland.org/war.html.

After Muhsin's assassination in 1979, 'Isam al-Qadi became new Secretary-General. The movement remained active during the Lebanese Civil War, and again joined Syria, the Lebanese Shi'a Amal Movement
Amal Movement
Amal Movement is short for the Lebanese Resistance Detachments the acronym for which, in Arabic, is "amal", meaning "hope."Amal was founded in 1975 as the militia wing of the Movement of the Disinherited, a Shi'a political movement founded by Musa...

 and Abu Musa
Said al-Muragha
Col. Sa'eed Musa al-Muragha is a Palestinian militant better known as Abu Musa.-Early years:A Palestinian refugee, Abu Musa joined the Jordanian Army in 1948 and rose to become commander of an artillery battalion in 1969. During this period he was sent to receive a military education at the...

's Fatah al-Intifada
Fatah al-Intifada
Fatah al-Intifada is a Palestinian militant faction founded by Col. Said al-Muragha, better known as 'Abu Musa'. The group is often referred to as the 'Abu Musa Faction'...

 in attacks on the PLO during the War of the Camps
War of the camps
The War of the Camps was a subconflict within the 1984–89 phase of the Lebanese Civil War, in which Palestinian refugee camps were besieged by the Shi'ite Amal militia....

 in 1984-85, and for the remainder of the Civil War (which lasted until 1990). This again led to mass-defections of Palestinians from the movement (Harris quotes the Syrian-aligned Amal Movement
Amal Movement
Amal Movement is short for the Lebanese Resistance Detachments the acronym for which, in Arabic, is "amal", meaning "hope."Amal was founded in 1975 as the militia wing of the Movement of the Disinherited, a Shi'a political movement founded by Musa...

 as complaining that the Syrian-backed Palestinian forces sent to attack the PLO were "Abu Musa
Said al-Muragha
Col. Sa'eed Musa al-Muragha is a Palestinian militant better known as Abu Musa.-Early years:A Palestinian refugee, Abu Musa joined the Jordanian Army in 1948 and rose to become commander of an artillery battalion in 1969. During this period he was sent to receive a military education at the...

 in the Biqa'
Beqaa Valley
The Beqaa Valley is a fertile valley in east Lebanon. For the Romans, the Beqaa Valley was a major agricultural source, and today it remains Lebanon’s most important farming region...

" but "become Abu nothing in the Shuf
Chouf District
Chouf is a historic region of Lebanon, as well as an administrative district in the governorate of Mount Lebanon....

 and Abu Ammar on arrival in Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

"), and reportedly its ranks were filled with non-Palestinian Syrian army recruits. After the end of the Civil War, the movement was nearly out of contact with the PLO mainstreamhttp://www.arts.mcgill.ca/MEPP/PRRN/papers/sanctuary/ch8.html, and exerted influence only in Syria and in Syrian-occupied parts of Lebanon. It kept lobbying within the PLO against the various peace proposals advanced by Arafat, and was part of the Syrian-based National Alliance that opposed Arafat.

As-Sai'qa today


After the end of the Lebanese Civil War and the 1993 signing of the Oslo Peace Agreement, as-Sai'qa has largely lost its usefulness to the Syrian government, and the state and size of the organization has deteriorated. Today, it is wholly insignificant outside Syria, although it retains a presence in Lebanon (its future is uncertain after the end in 2005 of the Syrian Army's
Military of Syria
The Syrian Armed Forces are the military forces of Syria. They consist of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Air Defense Force.-Manpower:The President of Syria is the commander in chief of the Syrian armed forces, comprising some 646,500 troops upon mobilization. The military is a conscripted force;...

 presence in Lebanon). It is extremely weak in the West Bank
West Bank
The West Bank ) of the Jordan River is the landlocked geographical eastern part of the Palestinian territories located in Western Asia. To the west, north, and south, the West Bank shares borders with the state of Israel. To the east, across the Jordan River, lies the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan...

 and Gaza Strip
Gaza Strip
thumb|Gaza city skylineThe Gaza Strip lies on the Eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The Strip borders Egypt on the southwest and Israel on the south, east and north. It is about long, and between 6 and 12 kilometres wide, with a total area of...

, and has not been active during the al-Aqsa Intifada
Al-Aqsa Intifada
The Second Intifada, also known as the Al-Aqsa Intifada and the Oslo War, was the second Palestinian uprising, a period of intensified Palestinian-Israeli violence, which began in late September 2000...

. Its importance to Syria has lessened, both because the PLO has diminished in importance compared to the Palestinian National Authority
Palestinian National Authority
The Palestinian Authority is the administrative organization established to govern parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip...

 (which as-Sai'qa boycotts), and because Damascus
Damascus
Damascus , commonly known in Syria as Al Sham , and as the City of Jasmine , is the capital and the second largest city of Syria after Aleppo, both are part of the country's 14 governorates. In addition to being one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in the world, Damascus is a major...

 has changed its strategy to supporting the Palestinian Islamist factions Hamas
Hamas
Hamas is the Palestinian Sunni Islamic or Islamist political party that governs the Gaza Strip. Hamas also has a military wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades...

 and Islamic Jihad.

Organization and Structure


As-Sa'iqa is led by a Secretary-General, presently Farhan Abu Al-Hayja (since 2007). It has a representative (Muhammad al-Khalifa) on the PLO Executive Committee
PLO Executive Committee
The Executive Committee is the highest executive body of the Palestine Liberation Organization .Its 18 members are elected by the PLO Parliament, the Palestinian National Council , often as representatives of the PLO member factions...

, but he boycotts sessions of the PLO EChttp://middleeastreference.org.uk/ploec.htmlhttp://www.fas.org/irp/congress/1989_cr/h890509-plo.htm. During much of the 1970s, as-Sai'qa's representatives in the PLO EC (Muhsin and al-Qadi) held the prestigious and sensitive post as Head of the Military Department, which reflects the military importance of the movement in these years.

Syrian backing in the 1970s gave as-Sa'iqa a military weight far greater than its political influence, which has always been small. During the Lebanese civil war was often the second largest Palestinian faction in fighting strength, after Yassir Arafat's Fatah
Fatah
Fataḥ is a major Palestinian political party and the largest faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , a multi-party confederation. In Palestinian politics it is on the left-wing of the spectrum; it is mainly nationalist, although not predominantly socialist. Its official goals are found...

 movementhttp://middleeastreference.org.uk/palestiniangroups.html.

Under the name Eagles of the Palestinian Revolution - possibly the name of the armed wing of as-Sa'iqa - the organization has committed a number of international terrorist
Terrorism
Terrorism is the systematic use of terror, especially as a means of coercion. In the international community, however, terrorism has no universally agreed, legally binding, criminal law definition...

 attacks. Among these are the 1979 takeover of the Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

ian embassy in Ankara
Ankara
Ankara is the capital of Turkey and the country's second largest city after Istanbul. The city has a mean elevation of , and as of 2010 the metropolitan area in the entire Ankara Province had a population of 4.4 million....

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

http://www.mipt.org/pdf/1979PoGT.pdf (although http://www.tkb.org/Incident.jsp?incID=2491
Here
-Music:*Here *Here *Here *Here *"Here" *"Here" *"Here" -Other:...

 attributed to Fatah) and a kidnapping of Jews emigrating by train
Train
A train is a connected series of vehicles for rail transport that move along a track to transport cargo or passengers from one place to another place. The track usually consists of two rails, but might also be a monorail or maglev guideway.Propulsion for the train is provided by a separate...

 through Austria
Austria
Austria , officially the Republic of Austria , is a landlocked country of roughly 8.4 million people in Central Europe. It is bordered by the Czech Republic and Germany to the north, Slovakia and Hungary to the east, Slovenia and Italy to the south, and Switzerland and Liechtenstein to the...

 from the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 to Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/report/1991/RRC.htm. Since the early 1990s, the organization has not committed any known attacks, and it is not listed on the US State Department's List of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
U.S. State Department list of Foreign Terrorist Organizations
"Foreign Terrorist Organization" is a designation of non-United States-based organizations declared terrorist by the United States Secretary of State in accordance with section 219 of the U.S. Immigration and Nationality Act...

.

Ideological profile


As-Sa'iqa's political agenda is identical to that of Ba'thist Syria, i.e. Arab socialist, nationalist and strongly committed to Pan-Arab doctrine. While this reflects its Ba'thist programme, it has also used Pan-Arabism as a means of supporting the primacy of its sponsor, Syria, over the Arafat-led PLO's claim to exclusive representation of the Palestinian people. Thus, it rejected "Palestinization" of the conflict with Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, insisting on the necessary involvement of the greater Arab nation. This occasionally went to extremes, with as-Sa'iqa leaders denying the existence of a separate Palestinian people within the wider Arab nation
Arab world
The Arab world refers to Arabic-speaking states, territories and populations in North Africa, Western Asia and elsewhere.The standard definition of the Arab world comprises the 22 states and territories of the Arab League stretching from the Atlantic Ocean in the west to the Arabian Sea in the...

 (quote).

The group has generally taken a hard line stance (reflecting that of Syria) on issues such as the recognition of Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

, the Oslo Accords
Oslo Accords
The Oslo Accords, officially called the Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements or Declaration of Principles , was an attempt to resolve the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflict...

, and other questions of Palestinian goals and political orientation. It was a member of the 1974 Rejectionist Front
Rejectionist Front
The Rejectionist Front or Front of the Palestinian Forces Rejecting Solutions of Surrender was a political coalition formed in 1974 by radical Palestinian factions who rejected the Ten Point Program adopted by the Palestine Liberation Organization in its 12th Palestinian National Congress ...

, despite supporting the Ten Point Programme that initially caused the PLO/Rejectionist Front split.

See also

  • Damour massacre
    Damour massacre
    The Damour massacre took place on January 20, 1976 during the 1975–1990 Lebanese Civil War. Damour, a Christian town on the main highway south of Beirut, was attacked by the Palestine Liberation Organisation units...

  • Arab-Israeli Conflict
  • Arab Liberation Front
    Arab Liberation Front
    Arab Liberation Front is a minor Palestinian political faction of the Palestine Liberation Organization , politically tied to the Iraqi Ba'ath Party formerly headed by Saddam Hussein.- Historical background :...

  • Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command
  • Fatah al-Intifada
    Fatah al-Intifada
    Fatah al-Intifada is a Palestinian militant faction founded by Col. Said al-Muragha, better known as 'Abu Musa'. The group is often referred to as the 'Abu Musa Faction'...

  • Palestine Liberation Army

External links